Sir, before we begin the work of the day I wish to make a statement. Now the atmosphere was well cleared last night (Hear, hear). It would be most disastrous that there would be any tense feeling again especially when the public session comes (Hear, hear). Now there is one way that this tense feeling could be recreated and that is by our Ceann Comhairle not giving fair play to everybody. Now yesterday first by the way, two days ago you, Sir, acted in a just and dignified manner when you left the Chair and you had something to say and you spoke from the same level as everyone of us here. That was a proper action for the Ceann Comhairle. Just when we were concluding the proceedings yesterday before the interval you made what I cannot describe any other way than as a partisan harangue. I wish now to get an undertaking from you that this will not be repeated, otherwise I will object to your occupying that Chair during the proceedings here today or on Monday.
It was my intention before the Minister for Defence rose to speak and before I would call on any one to speak, to make a statement with regard to the statement which I made here from the Chair yesterday. Several of the most respected members of this Assembly have also said to me that the statement I made from the Chair was a partisan statement. Now I assure you, everyone of you, that if it was a partisan statement and I do not contradict the interpretation that has been sincerely placed upon it it certainly was not so in my interest (Hear, hear). And I can say plainly when the representation was made to me that the concluding portion of my statement could be held as bringing in a matter of argument on one particular side with regard to the course of the discussion which took place, I admit that and I apologise to the Dáil for it (Hear, hear). In making that apology I hope you will all recognise it was not my interest to make a partisan statement. However strangely [recte strongly] I may feel in matters, whereas it has been my duty to be Chairman and it has been in many assemblies of different kinds I think it is the first time it has been my misfortune to be seriously supposed to have acted unfairly towards any side. I have most scrupulously tried to be fair to every individual in the Dáil (Hear, hear). That will be my endeavour. When I say that, I say it not because of any anxiety that I have to bear this responsibility. I have no such anxiety. I am here as the servant of the Dáil doing a duty because it devolves on me to do it. It is an honourable duty a duty anyone has a right to be proud of and at the same time a duty I suppose, considering the weight of it, any member of the Assembly would be glad to be relieved of. If there is anything that remains for me to say, if what I have said has not satisfied the members of the Dáil, first of all my regret for having said anything which could possibly bear the imputation of partiality and secondly my sincere desire to conduct the affairs of this Assembly with impartiality, if anything can be suggested that remains for me to say in order to satisfy you on that point I will say it (applause).
May I say I certainly have not anything to suggest further and as a colleague of Professor MacNeill I have the honour to be representing the University I do not know whether I am in a minority of one on the matter but I can honestly say I did not think yesterday that there was any partiality in the statement made and I will further confess I do not understand it now. I do not know if I am in a minority of one whether everybody else did think otherwise or not. At least the impression on the one private member was that there was no partiality.
I am afraid we cannot make it the subject of the discussion.
I am fully satisfied on the matter (applause).
There is a matter of urgency. May I ask that the public session on Monday be held in the Round Room of Mansion House? The Aonach will close tonight and the room could be arranged. I am looking at an English paper. It is their idea to get us into factions and they say the Dáil does not like publicity. Being out against the Treaty I am not following any particular man in it. I am following a principle. But I would like to have a public session held so that the people could hear it. There are matters discussed here which I am sure every member from the President or the Leader of the House down would like to be in public. We had a good feeling here last night and I will not say anything to affect it. We do not want to disrupt that feeling. I think we could have the public session held in the Mansion House; tickets could be issued to the public. The room can be cleared tomorrow.
I am in total disagreement with the views of the last speaker.
This point has been raised. It is really a matter for those who have charge of the arrangement of the agenda. We will take the agenda now before us in its proper course.
I sent in on the day before yesterday a notice to the effect that I wanted to ask questions. The most important one perhaps dealt with the probable action of the minority whatever way the Treaty would go. That has been answered already. It was answered yesterday afternoon. Another question I wished to ask was, have we not been a government, a Republican Government, for two years? If we had not been was the action of our army in dealing with the spies and other enemies of the country illegal? If we have been a government, a Republican Government, have we the power to abrogate now do away with our powers and consider the rejection or sanctioning of the Treaty? Is it in our power? It is a question I would like some legal opinion on. Another thing I wanted to ask for was a definite statement from those conversant with the position of the army as to how long they think the army can hold out in the event of a war that might be waged in certain contingencies. I do not refer to such war as the war in this country for the last two years but to regular warfare in an intensified form. Now I just want to refer to a matter that perhaps many would consider to be fully discussed yesterday the essential difference between the draft Treaty now before us for consideration and the alternative suggested by the President. The essential difference strikes me as that in one we were British subjects and in the other we are not. I maintain there is that difference in the Oath apart altogether from the matters of defence and the infringement of our rights by holding our harbours and the permission to England to use all the resources of the country in the matter of rail transit and other resources in case of war. I just want to get information on those points particularly as to the probable result if this Treaty is to be rejected. Is it likely there will be immediate war? If so what steps will be taken? It will affect every member of the House equally and we want to make quite sure that those responsible for the defences of the country at least would be away from the House in time to see to those defences of the country as far as is humanly possible. Remember it will be an open debate and information as to how the voting goes will be in Dublin Castle within a few minutes or seconds after the vote is taken. We do not know what action the enemy will take and I want certain steps taken so that those responsible for defences will be able to get to their posts or to get away from the enemy in time to make arrangements. There is another point and that is that some members have drawn to my notice an article in the Daily Mail which reviews practically everything that happened here yesterday. There is someone certainly giving information from Dáil Éireann to the British press. It is a very serious matter and attention should be drawn to it.
Press men were out in the lobby during the last few days. I have asked the members I have seen talking to them to be careful about what they say. Last night I gave orders to the police not to allow the pressmen beyond the lower hall. When pressmen are walking about they cannot but overhear what is being said.
I should like to get an answer to my question.
The difficulty is you have not addressed them to anyone in particular.
I do not know who is responsible. There are members of the House more intimate with the army affairs than I am. Of course the Minister of Defence is permanently responsible. Then whoever is the legal adviser, or whoever will speak for him, could give an answer to the question of what our powers are, or if it is all a matter for the people who are elected here.
Will the Deputy kindly repeat the first question?
One question was how long in the opinion of those responsible for defences would our army hold against the British army in the case of regular warfare being waged in certain contingencies upon us?
That question is a bit too indefinite. I do not know what you mean by certain contingencies.
Regular warfare such as was waged in the war with Germany.
That is that she pours all her available resources into Ireland?
I presume so. I may be wrong. I am asking for information on the matter. At least the members have asked me to put that question. I do not know whether they themselves are too shy to put it or not.
At a moment's notice I would not take it on myself to answer that question definitely. I may, if you think it necessary for me to do so, later on give a more definite reply but just now what I do say is this. We are in a very much better position (militarily) than we were when the Truce started. Before the Truce started none of us that I know of had any intention of giving up. We are in an indefinitely better position from the military point of view. Now I take it, that being so, if the demand we have been making all along be not conceded when it is reaffirmed here, that nobody has any intention of giving in now seeing that we are very much better off militarily than we have ever been before. That is the reply I have to make just now. If necessary I might give a more definite one, but I may tell you a military man such as the Deputy who has asked the question, because he has done his own share in the field, must realise that an answer to a question like that could not be given with an absolute certainty of its being correct.
The last speaker used the expression, "war in an intensified form". Does he imagine any intensified form worse than what we went through that could be possibly be forced in Ireland? Nothing could be more intensified than the warfare they waged. They wanted to beat us and it put the full forces they could command against us. What is suggested in that remark, "intensified warfare" or "war in an intensified form", I cannot see. There is nothing in it at all.
I claim to reply to the Minister of Defence.
There will be an opportunity for general discussion, this is only an answer to a question.
But a false impression should not be allowed to spread.
You must speak to the Whips if you wish to take part in the discussion.
I had another question to ask. It is this very important question. Will the army of Ireland abide faithfully by the decision of the majority of this House? Is that the opinion of the leaders of the army and the Government?
Speaking for my own position I say if we do not here agree that this Assembly (the Dáil) is the Government of Ireland and the army is under control of the Government the sooner we let the other people govern us the better.
So far as I am concerned as long as I hold the position which I hold at present I will guarantee that discipline, so far as I can maintain it, will be maintained in the army. But I may say, naturally if this Treaty is ratified I am no longer Minister of Defence and am not responsible for the army.
Arising out of the remark of the President I think the situation is very serious. Our plenipotentiaries came back from London and they put
The same rule applies in the case as in previous cases. All will be given an opportunity of making a contribution to the discussion. These are simply answers to the questions put by one Deputy. If you send in your name you will have an opportunity of speaking on this subject.
I want to ask a question. Majority rule or no rule, is that what we stand for here for majority rule?
I think the President's statement has completely covered that already.
Alright. In the Cabinet there were four for and two against. That's majority rule.
May I make an explanation about that. It is too bad that again this question should be brought in of the majority rule (Hear, hear). I stated, and let me in the same way as I spoke last night if possible once more explain the position. The plenipotentiaries got full powers if they wanted to sign on their own responsibility, but they knew perfectly well when they came back there would be a Cabinet policy. There is no question of majority rule in the Cabinet, none whatever. If the Cabinet is not able to get a united policy what it has got to do is to get a united Cabinet. Every member has a right to resign if he does not agree with the Cabinet policy. When a division occurs the constitutional way of dealing with it would be this. I would come here and tell you definitely I could not get agreement on the question of the policy. I should state therefore to the Dáil that I have not a united Cabinet, give you the result and give you the circumstances. In fact that is really what the discussions about these questions of powers, rights, etc., came to. I could go and tell you to ask these members to resign and I could nominate others and you could refuse to ratify them and, if the members thought I was at fault, I myself could be removed and someone else put in my place. There is no such thing as the majority rule in the Cabinet. Any member can exercise his individual right and refuse to assent in the provisional government, his only course is to resign from the Cabinet of the Dáil Eireann and if they wish to ask the Cabinet for my resignation, do so the general way. I do not ask for the resignation of the three plenipotentiaries whose actions were not I hold, on account of the undertaking given, in accordance with the Cabinet decision. I did not do it in order not to intensify and split. No man is going to change my views, they can change my position but not the whole of Ireland will change the opinion which I will express. Everyone has the same right. No one is going to bind me here by majority rule that is to make me turn anyway they want to. I am ready to take the decision of this House that the majority of this House is the Government of Ireland and I am as an Irish citizen ready to obey the laws passed by that Government and obey them faithfully but I cannot do anything else and no one can bind me. The plenipotentiaries had full power to sign whether we liked it or not. But the Cabinet had a policy. We could not agree.
The plenipotentiaries were appointed and ratified by the Dáil. When the word "plenipotentiaries" was first used in a press report I drew the President's attention to it; he wanted it used for a certain reason. I understand that when the Dáil ratified the appointment of these plenipotentiaries in the matter they were dealing with the Dáil delegated its power to the plenipotentiaries. This is a point I would like some legal man to speak on. Has the Dáil power to ratify?
We definitely understood when we used the word "plenipotentiaries". One of the Deputies of South Dublin asked me about the word and I said we understood it means they have full power to negotiate and to take responsibility for negotiating and signing. The word really meant the power of negotiating. They had their own responsibility for negotiating and signing. There is no treaty in recent times that is not brought to the main assembly for ratification or rejection. The plenipotentiaries have full power to negotiate and sign, they have not full powers to sign for the nation. I hold ratification is absolutely impossible for this Assembly. This Assembly cannot ratify a Treaty which takes away from the Irish people the sovereignty of the Irish people.
I am quite in agreement with the President. Take the President's letter, page ten, "It must of course be understood that all treaties and agreements would have to be submitted for ratification to the national legislature in the first instance and subsequently to the Irish people as a whole under circumstances which would make it evident that their decision would be a free decision, that every element of military compulsion was absent". I have never questioned the fact that the plenipotentiaries ought to come here and have their decision ratified. The Irish people are the people to decide.
I quite agree with what the President has said. It is perfectly obvious, if you look at the terms of the Treaty, you will see it says, "if approved". The question was raised by the Deputy who first started discussion as to whether the Dáil had any right at all to ratify this Treaty. I think in the first place it would be unfortunate if the main issue were tracted [sic] by the technicality so ill founded. I do not think it is well founded for this reason. All this Assembly is asked to do is to pass a resolution one way or another; it is not asked to legislate. If this Treaty be accepted it provided in the terms agreed that Irish Deputies with the exception of those from Carsonia were to meet and ratify. This was a necessary preliminary because the plenipotentiaries have to report back to the people who sent them. It is for these people to say whether they did right or wrong. Then a subsequent step is the real ratification or the non-ratification.
The difference between two treaties is the one would be consistent with the portion [recte position] we have adopted, the national position. It would be a question of one nation entering into a treaty with another whereas that which is brought back is not such a treaty. There is where I would have broken. In fact I feel I would not be consistent with my position if I would not at the point say, "We cannot go beyond it". The Deputy from South Dublin says you can ratify it as a legal act. You certainly cannot as a legal act ratify this as if it were an act of legislation. It would have no binding force.
I first wish to say a few words as to my personal views. I do believe and agree that ratification of the Treaty is technically a breach of the mandate of this Dáil and is technically ultra vires. The alternative is to pass a resolution recommending to the people the acceptance of this thing as the amount most that can be assured and as the alternative seems to be war on an extensive and grand scale war on a scale on which we are scarcely in a position to stand up against. It is better that we should next week if we agree, this Treaty ought to be accepted. It is better we should accept it. It is better we should commit a technical breach of our mandate than to commit the people. It can be said hereafter by the Republican party of Ireland that we broke our mandate and that it was not within our power to do this thing. But if we go to the country merely on a resolution saying that this ought to be accepted because it seems to be utmost that can be secured, I have personally very little doubt that the country will accept it.
What is meant by war on an intensified scale that was mentioned by Mr. Fahy? And the Assistant Minister for Local Government has used the expression, "war on an intensified and grand scale". What do they mean by that? To me it is an empty phrase.
It suited us very well to call what happened in Ireland war and it suited us also to make a good deal of propaganda of such things as Balbriggan, Cork and so on. Now they have called a formal truce, held formal negotiations. Let me take it that the negotiations failed. England could limb [sic] towns of Ireland. She could send gunboats up the Liffey and the Lee and blow hell's blazes out of Cork and Dublin.
Last night it was decided that an agenda would be drawn up and we should stick to that agenda. This cross-talk won't get us anywhere if you will have no public session on Monday.
On a general point may I ask a question? Have we power to come to a decision asking or rejecting this? Have we or have the private members, in view of the virtual rejection of the Treaty which took place last night and in view of the fact that you are sending these men back to war, have they no right to speak in this Assembly?
There is talk about propaganda. What did they want for propaganda? I have had the best blood of the Irish race sacrificed. These men gave up their lives for the Republic. Is it for freedom or ?
That is a rhetorical question.
You ought to confine the discussion question by question.
Each of the questions put was enough to create discussion for half a day. The next item on the agenda now is, "Possibilities after vote on Treaty has been taken".
Are the private members prevented from expressing their views?
Then this is a continuation of the private members' views.
I do not understand.
Yesterday we were dealing with the private members' views. Then we adjourned. I contend you cannot do anything in front of the expression of views of private members.
The next item on the agenda is, "Possibilities after the vote on Treaty has been taken". That is too vague altogether and I have changed it to this in order that you may have something more definite to discuss. "The functions of Dáil Éireann after the vote on the Treaty is taken" might seem to be narrow; it might refer to practically anything you wish.
I agree with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I think the private members should be allowed to discuss the general situation. I ask that I should be allowed to speak before anything is gone [on] with. I have already said I think private members should have an opportunity of expressing their views. Before any change is made on the agenda I claim the right to speak on the general situation.
My questions were deliberately vague. Some of them were vague in order that we could get the widest possible discussion on certain points. I think no one can say that I rise as a party man. There are grave doubts in people's minds as to the consequences of the voting. As a member of the Dáil I wanted the fullest discussion so that there will be no doubt on anybody's mind as to the consequences of the voting either way.
The effect of putting vague questions is to upset the whole agenda that is to say if the questions are allowed to have that effect. Now the next subject which the private members will discuss is, "The functions of the Dáil after the vote on the Treaty has been taken".
Last night we were having the private members' views. They were not restricted, the debate was not completed. On whose authority has it been abandoned?
The heading I have put down here places no limit. I do not see why there should be any suspicion.
I think it does limit them.
The private members' views were unfinished. They should be permitted to proceed.
I am in favour of that also.
Well, Commandant Seán McKeon is the next private member.
A Chinn Chomhairle, if I might mention from the start that I am going to give my views, I will also give an answer to a lot of the questions asked by some of the private members this morning. When I signified my intention yesterday evening of speaking it was not to answer these private members. But I think for the benefit of the private members and for the benefit of the Dáil generally it would do no harm for me as a private member to give my views upon the whole situation as I have seen it (Hear, hear). A day or so ago in the course of a statement the Minister of Defence said definitely that in the way that things went for the past fortnight that war was inevitable. Now that is a straight answer to any man who wants to know are we going to have war or not. You want nothing more definite than that because it was spoken in a definite fashion. Well if war is inevitable it must be inevitable because of our votes here in some way or another. I want to point out to each member what war from my point of view means and I know it (Hear, hear). The Minister for Labour has asked what do we mean by intensified warfare. Well it has been said that what happened for the last eighteen months was not war. It was a fight between a few men and the British Empire (Hear, hear). Intensified warfare as I know it will mean simply that, whether there are arms in the hands of the Irish people or not, if England goes to war again she will wipe all out as she was prepared to wipe out in the latter end of the late war. That is intensified warfare and as the Assistant Minister for Local Government, to call Kevin O'Higgins in the shortest way I can call him I do not know what Ministers there are or how many (laughter and applause) said it can be much worse than what we have gone through. But arising out of that I thought, when I was a soldier and fought in the field, I was fighting for a Cabinet that could do its work. I find instead here, I am sorry to say, that definite decisions that had a great bearing on me and for other men who fought along with me, if there was any minute required to prove we were fighting in a legal fashion, there was no signatory to that to prove whether we were right or not. It was disgraceful. I do not care who is responsible or not. I have enough said about that part; the more vexed I would get if I said anything more about it (laughter). I want everyone to understand me as a plain soldier who realises what it is to be at war (Hear, hear); and I want everybody to realise as far as war is concerned for me personally, well I do not think it is necessary for me to say I am prepared to go into it now just the same as I went in before. I want everyone to realise what we are going in for, because I hold we have a duty to the civil population (Hear, hear!). We are told by the Minister of Defence that the army is in a much stronger position, indefinitely stronger now than it was before the Truce well it may. It may be stronger in some points. In point of members it is a bit stronger in training it is a bit stronger. But what surprised me most of all was when we said there were two members of Purchases and they were not idle during the Truce. I know perfectly well I have charge of four thousand men. I do not here hesitate to say that number. But of that four thousand I have a rifle for every fifty. Now that is the position as far as I am concerned and I may add that there is about as much ammunition as would last them about fifty minutes for that one rifle. Now people talk lightly of when we are going to war. I hold they do not know a damn thing about it (Hear, hear). Now I am facing facts as I know them. When we started operations before, we took particularly good care that nobody knew anything about us, and whatever we did, and whatever has been done, was done by bluff pure bluff. Another thing that helped us to win was that the intelligence system and the information system of the enemy were smashed to the ground. Well why? Because the source of intelligence was with us and that was the people were with us and that meant we had the best intelligence that was available and that the enemy had none. The next thing that helped us was that in every Irish homestead that we went to there was a hearty welcome for us and if necessary their last bit was ready to be placed on their table for us. Well let us go back today to war. The enemy knows perfectly well today our position. They know perfectly well that with the frantic efforts of some of the purchasing agents to get arms that we must not have much. Furthermore they know perfectly well every individual who is now engaged and who they did not know when we started. They know now every officer and man from one end of Ireland to the other. I do not care what end it is, Cork or Belfast. The very moment that war starts the people know better than the British Government that we are unable to protect them and in that case we lose our most valuable asset and that is the help and support of the civilian population. The question has been asked, "What will happen if the Treaty be rejected?" You need have no doubt in your minds as to what will happen. First it will be a public declaration of war by us if we reject that Treaty at the present moment. I hold that when it is war I have a duty and so have several other members of the Dáil, a duty to be back immediately with their commands for to be in war we must be with our commands. Well I hold if the British government has an ounce of sense that, wherever our council chamber is, the devil out of it we will get. There is no doubt about it, I have gone far enough into it. I say it again that I am not well up and I cannot play with words and phrases and formulas (Hear, hear). But I am telling you honestly what I think (Hear, hear) and what I know to be true. When the war is declared I would like to be with my command and there I must try to get, and the only way I would get there is, I would suggest, that the Minister of Defence would arm the Dáil as we are sitting in session (Hear, hear).
I for one would be prepared to lead the Dáil out (Hear, hear). There must be no mistake about it, the man or men who flinches I have done it before, I only did it once but the man or number of men who attempt to flinch my bullet crashes through his brain on the spot (applause). I have heard a lot since I came in here about principle, and fine words they were grand words. I heard a lot about it. I hold I fought for a certain object. I did not succeed but I did my best. It has been said I am prepared to eat my principle. I know perfectly well there is not a man in the Dáil from the President down but has eaten principles from the start (Hear, hear). There is not one who has stood definitely for the ideal that was before us. We know very well it was unattainable but we knew every stroke we struck was helping to push the enemy out, and I hold the Treaty as it stands has done that and without our fight it could not be done (Hear, hear). I hold further the Treaty is called a bird in the hand. I hold that that bird in the hand can be turned to Ireland's interests, not to put or to have only one rifle in the hands of every fifty men but to put one rifle in every man's hand (applause). I hold it won't be to put out the enemy because they will have gone but to keep them out and, if they go to force themselves in, I am sure that sooner than force themselves in upon that rifle they would be prepared to accept Document No.2.
I suggest that the recommendation I made when I dealt yesterday with statements made the previous day by the Assistant Minister for Local Government be adopted by the speakers who follow. Every private member should get an opportunity now of stating his views. The suggestion was this, that the statement with regard to the Cabinet giving away the Republic be proved. It is a simple matter to make a bold statement; it is not quite so simple to prove it.
With all due respect to the Minister of Defence when private members' views were to be asked neither side of the Cabinet was to reply.
May I continue, Mr. Speaker? We are here to settle this question.
Why does not everyone get fair play?
I am not against that; everybody will, I take it, get fair play. But if a statement be made and repeated by others and not proven some people may think that there is something in the statement. I suggest the man who makes a statement proves it, and especially a statement such as this that the Cabinet gave away the Republic. That was in fact a statement made by the Assistant Minister for Local Government yesterday which was repeated to a certain extent by the Deputy from Connemara.
It has now been repeated by our esteemed friend from Longford. I suggest the statement and any statement that has a vital bearing on the action or attitude of the Cabinet be proved in addition to being made.
Does he deny accuracy of the minutes of the Cabinet meetings?
That is out of order.
May I make a short statement?
No, the next speaker is Mr. Seán Etchingham.
I was very pleased with the turn of events yesterday evening. We left in a better frame of mind. I would have said what the Minister for Local Government said when he appealed for unity. I do not think I have said anything since the session opened to disrupt unity. We want unity. I mean now to deal with some things that happened last night but I would like, in another way, to say one or two things to the member for Longford, Commdt. McKeon. I admire him as much as any person here in Ireland or outside it and I am very sorry to hear this statement. Even if that statement was practically true it was a song of surrender (cries of, It was not, and Never). I am afraid it would be taken as such by any person who holds such feelings as I do. The blacksmith of Ballinalee is to me a hero. His fame has been sung in ballads all through the country and if Ireland heard him say at least some parts of it that we could not continue the fight I do not believe they would think well of it. I do not hold with him. There are matters that he has mentioned as a soldier that I am not prepared to follow. Though my head is grey, on my own behalf I say at least I do not fear death I have contempt for it. A lot [recte loss] of hope and a lot [recte loss] of personal liberty I have experienced. Death is to me the simplest of all the simplest and the easiest of all. I said here after the session when they went across to England, "Now is the time for the gunmen and the young men to speak." We defined our policy and that was the policy of the Republic. One of the Deputies from Cork then challenged any speaker to speak and I am sorry then that Commdt. McKeon did not speak. Now I hold there is a double honour in this matter the honour of Ireland and the personal honour. I have said to one of the Deputies from Sligo in the presence of Mr. Alex. MacCabe, Mr. O'Donnell it was, the honour of Ireland was involved. Every single man who came into the Dáil and lifted up his hand and took a pledge to the Irish Republic should be prepared to die, I for one, with Commdt. McKeon. Whether I have a revolver or rifle or not and die in the road outside or in this room, if the government forces surround it, it is the easiest thing we could do and it is [all] we can do to save our honour and the honour of our country. Do not mistake that. We cannot get away from the principle that we are here in this Dáil standing for the Irish Republic and the Irish Republic only. We cannot have different shades of that Republic. We have for instance reference to the uncomprising opportunist shade. I do not conform to that. I may be a die-hard, but it is better die hard than soft. Terence MacSwiney died hard; he was over ninety days dying. What did he die for? Did he die for this thing that is before us?
No, he did not.
With his last breath he said, "I die a soldier of the Irish Republic." Now I said yesterday evening I thoroughly agree with the Minister of Finance. I applauded him. It was a manly thing to say he was befogged with legal phraseology that he went to get things not words. But a treaty is full of words. I think you will all agree with me that the Deputy for Kildare and Wicklow, Mr. Childers who was perfectly qualified no one denied that to deal with the subject, pulled that Treaty to shreds. But even if it were greater than this in the measure that has been given to us of local government I could not accept the Treaty so long as I had to swear an oath of allegiance to the British King. I hold, and I wish to say it now, the greatest respect and the greatest friendship for the members of the delegation. I have been working for many years with Arthur Griffith. I knew Arthur Griffith would not break on the Crown. I said so. But when Arthur Griffith came to Dáil Éireann and took an oath of allegiance to the Republic, he had stood along with us advanced with the times. I have read the notes taken by the Secretary for Economics, Mr. Barton, that night 5th and 6th fateful night for Ireland at Downing Street. Read them, everyone of you, and what is the impression? The saddest thing of all is this. We sent them over as great men and they came back as good men as they left, I believe, but they were mes- merised with the mesmerism of the wizard of Wales. It is that that gets me. I am one of the four who objected to any men going to London. Neutral ground was the thing. I did not like the scene of the negotiations. I felt the atmosphere of the city of London had got every man not alone from Ireland but from all over the world, no matter who entered it. I do not blame them, they were only weak men. But when Mr. Lloyd George said to them that he had a train at Euston Station and the boat at Liverpool and added, "Hurry up and sign this or we will have war in two days", they agreed. They would not have signed it in Dublin. I firmly believe they would not have signed it in Dublin. It is a tragedy.
Speaking for myself I would have signed.
So would I.
I would not (Hear, hear).
It is not quite right to say they would not sign in Dublin. I do not wish to refer to the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave an undertaking that he would not sign any document until he returned to Dublin; and when he would have come back and met the President of the Republic, the Minister for Defence, Mr. Cathal Brugha, and the Minister for Home Affairs I do not think he would sign. I do not think either of them would sign. I put it to them that they would not have done so. No, that is the tragedy of it. Do not forget that, and furthermore what completed the tragedy was the interview given by my old friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs that this was the end of seven and a half centuries fight.
And he said it meant liberty. What does it mean to the country? There are some men going to vote for the Treaty. They are not stupid, they are not politicians who say so nor are they soldiers. "If this thing went to the country", it has been said, "the country will ratify the Treaty because the country does not know where it is." As regards the press we can say that we here that stand against the Treaty have not even a mosquite foress [recte mosquito press]. We have not even a "Spark", "Scissors and Paste", "Old Ireland" or "Young Ireland" to stand for [recte against] the Treaty (Hear, hear).
The Connnacht man [recte Connachtman] stands against it; the west's awake at last. I say here with the greatest respect that the members of the delegation, the plenipotentiaries, I repeat what I said before, they went over there and had powers to sign but they could not sign away the liberties of the Irish people unless we have been meeting here in Dáil Éireann, the Parliament of the Irish Republic, as a fraud. From whom do we derive our powers? Do we not derive them from the people? As a Republican it is nothing new to me. Like Seán T. O'Kelly I have been many years a Republican. You all know how I was raised at the Lee by my uncle who was a '67 man and from him I got my inspiration. I believe with him and have a firm faith in the Fenian tradition. I have evidence of it that the old Fenian tradition, unwavering and uncompromising, is buried in the graves where lie the bodies of Tom Clarke, Pádraig Pearse, Seán MacDermott, John McBride, Tom MacDonagh, Plunkett and others. Is there anyone here who would tell me that Tom Clarke lifted his hand for that thing? Is there anyone here who would tell me that any of the young men who fought and fell in 1916 would have lifted their hands for it? (Voices, Yes).
¹ This speaker's name is obviously wrongly recorded.
Is there any man here who was a Republican would advocate the Councils Bill? I say you would have failed immediately if you said the first President of the Irish Republic would have put his hand to that.
I think the memory of the dead should be held sacred by all.
Is there any of the men who have engraved their names on the list of the martyrology of the men of 1916, of those who fell on the scaffold or before the firing party, who would have signed that? Are there any of the men who fought and fell in battle who would have done so?
MR. GRIFFITH and MR. COLLINS
If there were such men who fought and fell for this wretched Treaty that makes for the dismemberment of their country and that would take the Oath of Allegiance to the English well, where would they expect to go in the future life? A fool's paradise? I have heard an old friend of mine I was with him a long time in business the member for Sligo, Alec MacCabe that he was an uncompromising Republican. He was when in the Dáil a few months ago he got up and emphasised, with more emphasis than he generally puts into his speeches, that if we take the island of Aran we might hold it as a Republic. I was in Aran and I would not think it a good military position. The member for Cork, Mr. de Róiste, talks very lightly of taking this Oath very lightly for a member of Dáil Éireann. The member for Cork protested that his word of honour would be sufficient but he is willing to give the Oath of Allegiance to the English King.
No, absolutely no.
Mr. Churchill tells you that it is binding on them.
I do not give a fig for Winston Churchill or Lloyd George or any English Minister.
I am glad then. I am proud to hear that statement. I made one great convert since I have got it out that Mr. de Róiste will not vote for the Treaty.
I do not want to interrupt but is it fair for a member to deliberately misconstrue the words of another member?
That is not the first time my good friend, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is too hard on me. Because I said these things and take strong views I do not want to make any personal enemies in Dáil Éireann. On this matter of principle I feel strongly. I do not know whether I have misconstrued any words of the member for Cork.
I do not know what the reference is but I would suggest that all members as far as possible would when speaking avoid personal references to any members as they inevitably lead to the result of raising the temperature.
I do not wish to do so. I would pass it by if the Minister for Home [recte Foreign] Affairs would say in what way I have misconstrued.
It is better to pass on.
I always like to be interrupted because it gives me chaos [sic]. I have been in prison all my life for standing for these principles. I am a Republican of the true brand, an isolated Republican, not an elastic Republican or a pretended Republican. I stand for that and ever will stand for it. I can't pass that. Another good friend of mine the member for Leitrim, made a speech in which he said we are manning the bearna baoghail. We are in the gap of danger and we know what happened. I was over in Leitrim during the elections and they were then what I thought separatists. What I want you to do is continue the atmosphere of last night. I assure you I feel the position strongly. I feel, and I think a great number of you feel, that in dealing with the Treaty that they did not know enough about this legal phraseology. We are met here to decide the greatest issue that has ever been before the people of this country since the first man or woman ever entered it. Posterity will be our jury. I do believe it would have been much better if we carried out all these debates in public, every one of them. I have heard rumours of what has been said by the member for Longford, Comdt. McKeon. I do believe that the whole situation is that we were invincible on the 3rd or 4th of December and that we were crushed on the 5th or 6th when we woke up in the morning and when we saw that Treaty in the Press. We can retrieve it here if we are honest to our oaths. I reiterate that we cannot get away from it. We are here as Deputies to the Irish Republican Government and if we did not hold that position this Government and every act committed under it could not have the sanction it had, the sanction of the Irish people. People who acted under this sanction were called murderers by the English government but they were acts of warfare, acts committed under the will and authority of the Irish people. We were the only moral or legal Government in the country and are still to-day. Are we going to give away that position lightly? (Cries of No). But you are giving it away (No).
Are we here to hear the views of private members or of one private member?
I am an humble private member. I hold the position of an "external" (laughter) and therefore I am far more free than an "internal" Minister (laughter). I have more to say at the public session. It may be my last opportunity of addressing Dáil Éireann as an Irish Republican member, but before you dissolve or give away the position everyone of you should speak and say how you are going to vote. I do know what Ireland will think of you when Ireland gets from under the dope which Lloyd George issued in Downing Street. I have seen that Professor Dicey stated that there were 15 famous battles in the world that created revolutions and the battle of the table in Downing Street was what would create the 16th. It is a tragedy that the young men who should be fighting men are the men who get up and speak for compromises. If I hit you hard you deserve it. There is no use in misinterpreting the issue. I say to everyone of you here who votes for the Treaty never again call yourselves Republicans. Now there is one thing I say in conclusion. I know we are here in private. There are men going around the town saying we will have a Republic in five years. One of those who should know better said in one year. Now, that is a falsehood. Read the history of your country and did they ever fight until repressed? If Ireland gets the Colonial or Free State will she fight? I am perfectly certain of my future existence. It will be spent in jail, in an Irish jail. I will be sent there by the Government of the Irish Free State. There will be more rebels in Ireland if you ratify that Treaty than ever before. I assure you from things I have heard that at least one or two of the men in charge will try and put down this sedition. Therefore I will be in jail. However, don't let any of you young men or old men get away with the idea that, if you sign that Treaty and give up the position, that you are standing for an ideal. You were elected here because you fought and suffered for that ideal but if you vote for that Treaty you that vote for it will have forsaken that ideal. Don't forget that. Once you wander off the straight road and go down the sideways of expediency you will find leafy bowers and sycamore trees and mossy banks and happiness and luxury the flesh pots of Egypt but don't forget you, that are committing yourself to this tragedy, that you are going to come out again and fight. It is like the talk of getting out the English. They are going to evacuate the country tomorrow. They are going to take out the khaki and bring in the marines. Those of you who talk of coming out again, as some of you talk, go and tell it to the marines (laughter). No I tell you here that the only true shade of Republicanism is the one who stands true to the separatist principles. I do not wish to speak of personal matters but I may say that my mother, who is 84 years old, when the soldiers came to blow up her home and my home and the home of her sister, what did she say to them? "You may level every house in it but you won't kill the country", and I can't go back to her and say that I voted for this wretched thing. I stand for what I stood for all my life and what her brother stood for if he was not sold by men who would not come out and fight. Do not be led away. Commdt. McKeon whom I admire spoke plainly. I will also speak plainly to the men here. Thanks be to God it is not necessary for the women, for the women in the Dáil will show they are the best men in it. I am told Ireland was always fond of kings. They were never Republican. You want a king, do you? If you want a king make a king of a gander or a puckaun but in God's name let it be an Irish gander or a puckaun. Why go to England for a gander? Let us try to come back to the old position as far as we can retrieve it; let us keep together. I do not know what I would not at the present moment say I would sacrifice of my principles for unity and the biggest thing that men could do is to sacrifice personal feeling and come in and stand together for the sake of Ireland's honour and Ireland's position before the world.
I am glad that at last after three days, disheartening days, we have a straightforward, plain speech from a man who takes his stand, honest and solid, on some kind of foundation we can stand on and fight. It is the first time that I have heard that it is not on Document I as against Document 2 that we are asked to stand. It is not on documents he is standing but he is standing on the old ideal and I respect him for that. Every man who takes his stand on that is a man for whom we can have nothing but the highest respect and regard, but I must confess as a man who has done his best in the work from the very start and remember I was one of the men who founded the Irish Volunteers I must confess that the work and labour and fight of these days have been disheartening to men who cared about Ireland, these recriminations about points that did not matter a damn to Irishmen. What do we care about personalities? What do we care whether this Minister or that agreed with this clause or that? I know what the plain men of Ireland think, the soldiers of Ireland. I have the honour to have held the position of a soldier in the army since 1913. It is pitiable to hear these quibbles about internal and external association. We were asked, "Did such a man fight for the Treaty?", "Did he fight for external association?", "Did he fight for Document 2 or 1?" We have no right to say how any man who is dead would have voted. It is a mere accident that Commdt. McKeon has not inscribed his name on the tomb of Irish martyrology. It is fortunate he is here to-day to speak for himself and not to be quoted by other people when he could not speak for himself. It is a mere series of accidents, and I know intimately all the facts, that the Minister of Finance is here today, and it is the merest accident that all of us are here to-day, not to have our names as arguments against what we think the best thing to do for Ireland now. This thing has been discussed, with the exception of Mr. Etchingham, in the spirit of a discussion at the Home Rule Bill. For God's sake will we get a grip of realities? This is a Treaty now at the cannons' mouth in guerilla warfare from a power against whom we could never expect a military decision in our favour. This power is to leave the country bag and baggage, to withdraw from all her strong fortified positions and to leave the country in possession of the Irish army, the very thing we have been fighting for and now achieve for the first time in 750 years. These are the terms of a big proud nation to a nation which is not big and which, make no mistake, if not strong enough to break our spirit, could render us absolutely impotent. Are we out for destroying the country and saving our faces? There is no alternative to ratification of the Treaty but war. Document No. 2 is no alternative if we must die. Men have died to the cry of "Up the Republic" but I cannot imagine they would die for the cry of "Up External Association". Now, just imagine a plain ordinary man in the ranks in the country going to fight for the difference between external and internal associations. He would not know what it means and I am not perfectly clear as to what it means. As I said every credit is due to Mr. Etchingham. He states he was against negotiations at all and not alone to these terms. The Dáil decided to enter into negotiations with the British government to ascertain how the negotiations of Ireland with the British Government could be reconciled with our national aspirations and I do not know what we imagined we were doing except one thing. The Minister of Defence made a very clear and definite statement yesterday and they said there was no alternative but war. Well it is very probable that the result of this will be war. Well, let us face it in a purely military spirit and what we are fighting. We are fighting to keep the Black and Tans in Ireland, we are fighting to keep them in Dublin Castle. I do not think a plain soldier would be able to grasp that point of view. There was one statemen which the Minister of Defence made to-day which I must confess surprised me as a member of the staff serving under him. He said we were in an infinitely stronger position since the Truce. I wonder did any member of his staff say that? All I can say is that I am a bit astonished for it is contrary to what I expected that we were stronger. We are stronger in numbers. We have a lot of Truce Volunteers. We are here to represent the country and not to air our points of view, not to gain any personal advantage or any party or doctrine advantage but to serve the country to the best of our ability. The alternative is one of two things, whether we agree to the terms of the British government to save their faces or we try to save our faces on the basis of a compromise. There is no use fooling ourselves. In God's name let us realise our responsibilities in this matter. If we are going to plunge the country into bloodshed and to fight to the last gasp let us do it on bedrock principles and not on Document No. 2. This is a question of life or death to the nation. It was suggested that it is dishonourable for us to fight when we never hoped for a military decision. The military will evacuate our territory on certain conditions and he did it as he stated to save the country from useless bloodshed. We are asked to do certain things to save the faces of an unbeaten enemy. That is a solid substantial fact. The armed forces of the enemy is a thing that counts in this country and let there be no mistake about it. Now I have been astonished to hear people say they are standing on principles of Document No. 2 [which] says that Ireland shall recognise His Britannic Majesty as head of the association. That is an evasion because if you put that up as a treaty with England there is no machinery provided as to how it shall take place. That was the crux which our delegates had to fight all the time. I think it is not fair to pretend that this gets over the difficulty. What other machinery can you devise except some oath of negotiation [recte recognition]. If we are to have no oath of recognition to his Britannic Majesty say so. It is the only chance on which the country will back us. Now as Commandant McKeon said our strength in the fight was not our military strength but because the people were behind us. They were our intelligence department and the commissariat. Would the people be behind us now?
You cannot say. I know what I am speaking of when I say the vast majority of the people would be against us. We would have to fight for an unfinished and divided country and we would not have the decency of a clear issue. As to the question of being a Republican I stand where the President stands on that. The President has declared, and he has emphasised the point, that when he took the oath to the Irish Republic he felt he wanted to make it clear that he was taking the oath only to the Irish nation. We will never unite the people of Ireland on any issue but the one of the freedom of Ireland and driving out the English power from Ireland. The particular form we were elected on for the [gap in original] was the Republic. I had occasion to analyse and find out exactly actly what a Republic was and the one thing in common with the Republicans was that they did not derive their authority from any monarch, symbolic or actual. A Republic is simply a state in which the people freely on their own rules express their will in a democratic way. There are one or two other things I wish to say. Some people are talking on the assumption they say this Oath they are not going to take. All I can say is that nobody asked them to take it. I have no earthly desire to be a politician. Most of the people here are only politicians by accident and they do not want to be politicians whenever they have achieved their object of driving the English out of Ireland and controlling their own business one of those brave, honest, sincere men like Mr. Etchingham who are taking their stand on principle. There is a lot of very unnecessary opposition to this Treaty and it is painful to me that people whom I love and respect should have [said] things of those who are doing their best for the country, but there is also an element of opposition which I find it difficult to reconcile with complete sincerity. One member has stated that never, never would he take the Oath of Allegiance to the King of England but he told me in 1913, when it looked probable that Mr. Redmond's Home Rule Bill would come into force with the allegiance embodied in it, that he intended to be a candidate for Parliament.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF L.G.B.
You are on dangerous ground.
I must rule against personal allusions.
I quite agree and I regret it. I will say no more on that point but I would simply advise persons who say things like that to be perfectly sure that people have not got long memories. This is a matter of life and death to the nation. I am speaking simply and solely from one point of view. I do not want to be a member of any Government or Parliament. I want to do my part in getting the English out of Ireland and building up the finest state we can. I have the same view as others that Ireland shall be afforded complete opportunity for cultural developments. I think her civilisation will work best on independent lines but, if I have to vote between getting the enemy bag and baggage out of Ireland with some miserable thing to save their faces and on the other hand of trying to save our faces by a mere quibble between external and internal allegiance and plunging the country into bloodshed without national sanction, then I will vote for having the British out of Ireland.
The reason I wish to adress you is that I have just a couple of words to say that I think had better be said at a private session of the Dáil than at a public session lest it might show our hands to a certain extent to the enemy. I sincerely hope I will say nothing that will in any way disturb the hopeful and promising atmosphere before we separated last evening. I trust everyone here will say nothing but will do everything possible to improve that position. I must say I have heard the discussion of the past three days and at times I found myself almost cursing the hour I entered political life, because of absence of that splendid spirit of comradeship that we possessed up to a few days ago. Now I would like to bring your minds back to the session of the Dáil at which the delegates were appointed and of which I have a most vivid recollection. The President proposed the delegates who were duly appointed. There was a slight difference of opinion, I remember, at the last moment. What I recollect as having happened was this I give my recollection for what it is worth and I think it will help to clarify the position the President proposed the five delegates in order. When their appointments were approved by the Dáil somebody got up and said how desirable it was the the President should perform his part on the delegation or accompany the delegation. My friend the Minister for the L.G.B. proposed in a long, plausible and well reasoned and good humoured speech that the President should accompany the delegation, and the Minister for Finance got up and supported that proposal, and the President got up and stated what he had said at previous Cabinet meetings, that it was better he should not go. The Cabinet of the Dáil realised that the vast difference between the maximum we could expect from England and the maximum [recte minimum] we could accept could not possibly be bridged by the delegation to London, and therefore that we could nor expect the delegation would come back with an arrangement which we could ratify and that, if we did not ratify it, it would be a serious thing if the head of the state was involved in the repudiation. I say here that the proposals handed in by the President, even though they do not appeal to me very forcibly, crystallise the situation which was anticipated by An Dáil and anticipated by the Cabinet. It merely proclaimed that when the delegates came back they would be likely to be repudiated and that they would take it as a matter of course. If I am wrong then as I stated at the outset take it for what it is worth. Now I have devoted and I don't say it in the nature of a boast, and I do not think anyone here will think I mention it in the nature of a boast, I mention it only to see if I can restore a proper spirit of brotherhood I have been engaged in the service of Ireland for a quarter of a century. There is nobody I know so long and have worked so long with on the same lines as the chairman of the delegation to London. God forbid that I should say anything to detract from the credit due to the chairman of the delegation for the brilliant services he has rendered to Ireland for many a long day. Associated with him also for a long period was the Minister for Finance but my work for Ireland has been more in common with the chairman of the delegation. We have been identified in working for the language or literary movements. It is not a boast to say that Mr. Griffith for a quarter [of a century] has neglected his own interests and has devoted all his energies and abilities to the Irish cause according to his lights. But his judgment just now differs from mine sharply and fundamentally. Now I have served in this Dáil in many capacities, as chairman in the absence of Mr. S.T. O'Kelly and as Minister of Education for which I was proposed against my will. My work in the service of Ireland for a quarter of a century has been a labour of love. I need not make my meaning plainer than that. Now, we all who by our services to Ireland have in our different ways brought this cause to the position it occupies to-day cannot we in God's name find accommodation and settlement? May I not appeal to the Dáil and the members of the Cabinet to try and come together once more and see whether we could agree to face the public on Monday with a united programme and that will confound the enemies outside? There is one thing England has ever been trying to do and that is to divide country. I have been a member of the Cabinet of the Dáil. I was unanimously elected a member of the Cabinet and some of you may be surprised to hear that I had the honour of presiding at the Cabinet after Mr. Griffith's arrest and when three or four of us met in obscure places just at the time that England's actual bloodhounds went into the house of the Minister of Defence to see if they could run him to earth. Can we not between this and Monday find accommodation or agreement in in which we can go to the public session of the Dáil as a united Dáil? Mr. Etchingham said a while ago that he was one of four opposed to the idea of sending delegates to London at all. I am betraying no secret when I said that I took up that position and it will be in the recollection of those here, and particularly in the recollection of Mr. Barton after he had been released from Dartmoor or Portland where he was the guest of His Britannic Majesty to whom we are asked to take the Oath of Allegiance, and that I was strongly opposed at that time to sending any delegates to the enemy's house. There is always a tradition in Ireland that only the vanquished went into the enemy's house. They went to London and we see the result. Before they went to London we had the Irish cause on the proudest plane it occupied since Strong-bow landed in Ireland. When they went to London they stepped off that plane on to a slippery slope. They went out on the slippery slope and they are on the slippery slope and I would appeal to them before Monday to look up from that slippery slope, to look up to heaven once more and see whether they cannot come up to the plane once more on which the cause was before they went to London. I want to say further that [in] the position in which, I was placed in the Dáil it is my duty to administer the Oath of Allegiance to every member of the Dáil. I took that Oath of Allegiance and I interpret that as taken by myself and administered by comrades as a vow of life-long service and consecration of my life to the Irish Republic, not as a question of days and weeks but as a vow that consecrated my life to the service of the Irish Republic. I heard people say they took this Oath very lightly, that they regarded it as [of] very little consequence. I don't take that view. I want to say here that I am never going to perjure myself or violate that Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Republic. I should be very sorry to see any man here who realises the meaning and significance to let his name go down to posterity as a perjured man if he violates that Oath. It is a matter for his own conscience. That is how it appears to me. What I wanted most particularly to say to you is the understanding on which of [sic] our delegates went to London. I am afraid that when we meet on Monday some of us may have to say very hard things against the proposed Treaty. I ask the men who have signed their names to that Treaty not to regard hostility to the Treaty as hostility to themselves in any [way]. Personally I would appeal once more to you members if it is at all possible to let us try and come together and see whether we cannot agree to something that would enable us to face the public and bring us from the slippery slope on which we are to the plane on which we were and show to the world that we are determined to stand by the cause which has been consecrated by the blood of so many martyrs and, as a friend of mine said, the blood of the finest generation that has appeared in Irish history. I hope they will bring that cause back from the position to which it has drifted slightly and that everyone here will do his best to push that cause forward from that position and certainly never let it recede.
The House adjourned at 2 o'clock for luncheon.
On resuming the Speaker took the Chair at 4.35 p.m.
I hope not to say very much. It has already been said by previous speakers. There are two points which I should like to dwell upon. Three or four times in this Dáil today and yesterday Deputies were reminded that they had been, so to speak, challenged at the previous session when the plenipotentiaries were to be appointed to stand up and say their say and declare one way or another. That was mentioned a few times by Deputy Miss MacSwiney, by Mr. MacEntee and by the Deputy for Louth and by Mr. McDonald¹.
¹ There was no member of that name.
Excuse me I did not say such thing.
By others. I am quite clear about that anyway. It was mentioned here three or four times. I deny the right absolutely of any delegate in this Assembly to dictate to the rest as to when they should speak and when they should not (Hear, hear). I deny the right of a private member and I deny the right of a member of the Cabinet. We have all our own consciences and our own pledges and our own constituencies to consider and we have all got intelligences such as they are. We must be all allowed to judge when we should speak and when we should remain silent. That is a matter for ourselves absolutely. There is a lot of talk about principle but I think that is clear anyway. Now, as to the point [as to] what did happen on that occasion. Some people put some interpretation on it and other people put other interpretations on it. Deputy Miss MacSwiney put an interpretation on it that the plenipotentiaries were sent over, and I must say also that the Deputy for Louth put the very same interpretations on it, that the plenipotentiaries were sent over without any hope whatever of effecting what I will call, for want of a better word, a settlement for tactical reasons of one thing [recte kind] or another. The Deputy for Louth stated that he interpreted the President's attitude in not going over as meaning that there could be no chance whatever of a settlement out of these particular negotiations. Well, Deputy Miss MacSwiney and the Deputy for Louth are entitled to put that interpretation if they wish but we have the documents before us. We know the statements in this document made by Mr. Lloyd George. We know what took place at the Dáil but we were equally interpretated [recte entitled] to put our own interpretations on that also and we were entitled to take into account what the President said, that all through these negotiations he was out for peace and if possible he would get peace. We were entitled to put our new [recte own] interpretations on that and we should not be baited at any time by what any member of the Dáil says. The other point I want to touch very shortly is on the Oath of Allegiance; and before saying anything I may say this, that it seems to me extraordinary that when a difficulty arises that we should adopt the attitude of a board of guardians and let someone get up and suggest that we should get it adjourned for counsel's opinion. For a sovereign assembly to take up this position is extraordinarily futile. It could not happen anywhere else, in any other such assembly in any other country in the world and it is an extraordinary condition of futility. There is a good bit of confusion, some of it deliberate, some of it accidental and some of it inevitable. We have heard all sorts of ministry relations and misunderstandings for the last two or three days: but really the one thing we should avoid is deliberate misquotation and I have heard for the last hour, for the last three days, deliberate unquotation [sic]. I have heard Madame Markievicz say we are taking the Oath of Allegiance to the English King. I have the misfortune to be a lawyer but I have heard more pettifogging from members here than I ever heard from lawyers in my life (applause). I am asking you to read the Oath misinterpret it if you like but don't misquote it. There is no Oath of Allegiance to an English king or to any other king. Be clear about that. I don't know whether I ought to read it for you or not. "I do solemly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established". Is there any allegiance to that? That much of it is alright I presume anyway. "And that I will be faithful to H.M. King George V. his heirs and successors". When all the excitement is over I wanted to point out that personally I always feel foolish in making verbal distinctions but they seem to appeal to this Dáil. In any case I don't want to put a lawyer's interpretation but I want to put an ordinary plain educated man's interpretation on these words. Any man that looks at Nuttall's dictionary will see that there is a difference between allegiance and faith, and if there is, why then say we are giving an oath to an English king? There are lawyers in this Assembly and I ask them to contradict me if I am wrong when I say that faith is what you would give to an equal, what you are to every man. It is the same as recognition, absolutely the same as recognition. If the word recognition means anything it means that you will be faithful to the bargain you entered into and to the person with whom you are entered into the bargain. This is the sort of thing I don't like because it is like juggling with words and these are ordinary words and they can be interpreted in the ordinary way but this Assembly seems to love having them errected [recte dissected]. Now let us have the point settled and will anyone get you here and say that we are giving an Oath of Allegiance to an English king or to any king.
Finish the oath.
"In virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Gt. Britain." Well? Faithful to King George V in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain.
Not subjection of Ireland to Gt. Britain.
We were to recognise the English king as head of the [gap in original] and be faithful to the English King as head. Anyone who sees distinctions is [welcome] to them. Now that is the second point. Now the third point is this what Mr. Beasley in a previous speech said was the one in which he would give a united Ireland and that is the driving out of England out of the country as Lord Carson described it "bag and baggage".
That is the real mandate you have got from Ireland; you got no mandate for a form of government as such. Does anyone tell me here that you were given a mandate in Ireland for a form of government as against a mandate for freedom and for the cleaning out of the English of this country "bag and baggage"? Any honest man facing the situation clearly will know and admit that. That is the way personally I always regarded the mandate. I think my few public statements never said anything contrary to that. To the purest Republican in this Assembly that is a profound truth and if it is right I ask every man in this Assembly to consider it and to say whether or not he is going to plunge the country into war for a mandate for an issue which was never before the country.
On a point of order. As this mandate has been raised may I read one paragraph from the mandate.
There you are.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely a member may be replied to afterwards and not interrupted.
I think the Deputy that has arisen has had sufficient acquaintance with public life to know that that is not a point of order.
I said before that I heard more pettifogging in this Assembly than I heard in all my existence and I say that this is an example of it. The heart of the Irish claim for 500 years is the driving of the English bag and baggage out of Ireland and nothing else and that it was for any form of government against that and I make no conditions or qualifications as far as I am concerned in that. I happened to be in Ballykinlar when the last election was fought otherwise I suppose I would not be here and I had time to read the speeches and the manifestoes and I say the word Republic was conspicuous by it [recte its absence] at the last elections if
If that point is worth anything. The real issue put before the country always was the clearing out of the English independent of any form of government. That is a perfect truth and I think it is a truth which everyone should seriously consider. Certainly I think they should make up their minds on it before they plunge the country into war. Now there is another certainty emerging out of all the obscurities and that is that war is going to follow. The chairman of the delegation has said it and the Minister for Home defence [sic] has said it. Is there any member of the Dáil going to contradict that? Is any member like myself going to contradict that? Is any member like myself going to contradict that which is a common case from both sides? I take it that there is not and I think we ought to have heard the last word. For that reason I think we ought to have an end once and for all to all this talk about accommodation I use these words deliberately if it means putting forward another proposal. Nobody who has any real sense some [sic] of the position likes to see this Dáil split but what I do object to is soft talk at this time of the day of accommodation when we know there can be no accommodation in lines of another treaty. I do not say people mean it to be eye-wash but in view of what the delegates say on the one side and the Minister of Defence on the other what else can it be but soft-salt [recte talk] and however much we may like to pay compliments to one another at this time of the day we ought to face realities. The head of the delegation states you have got the very last word.
People seem to think they were there only a week. They were practically there six months.
Well I mean from the Truce period. They were there two months. Even the country was beginning to wonder how they were able to drag it out so long. They came back and forward five or six times and now we are faced here with the assumption that they should have come back once oftener. But who were the best judges of that than the men on the spot? I would like to know on what basis, on what grounds and on what assumptions the arguments that they might have come back another time is based. It is on the well known credulity of Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith's soft-headedness and the lamblike disposition of Mr. Lloyd George. What is it based on? No one is entitled to come to conclusions on a serious matter like this on mere whim. Every man owes it to himself to make up his mind on the realities and the plain, simple, logical arguments that apply to the case. I want to know what is that based on. I want to know how any private member can take the responsibility of plunging the country into war because he thinks Mr. Collins or Mr. Griffith or any other member of the delegation made a fool of himself because he has come to the conclusion at the eleventh hour that Mr. Collins or Mr. Griffith happened to be softheaded. Because that is the assumption, that is what it comes to. Now there is just one other point. I am in favour of the Treaty and I am going to vote for it. I am in favour of it because I believe what Mr. Griffith says, that it gives us the substance of freedom and that it is a Treaty that Ireland can with honour accept. I am going to vote for it for that reason first of all. I am going to vote for it because he could not get any better, because the alternative is war and because my constituencies want me to vote for it (Hear, hear) and I have absolutely no sympathy for the people who are going to vote for it under protest, none whatever; that is only a weak way of justifying yourself to yourself and everybody else. Everyone would get better if they could. We should assume that we all know the circumstances of the case and let us deny afterwards once and for all this talk about the watery [sic] for it. Assume under protest that everybody is just as sensible and patriotic as yourself. And that the plenipotentiaries into the bargain are just as primitive as yourself. Don't refuse the issue. We all know the circumstances and I confess that I cannot understand the attitude of a member of the delegation who says he would vote for it in London and would not vote for it in Dublin. I think it is mental bankruptcy that sort of thing. I heard there were going to be many charges that the plenipotentiaries and a serious charge made against Mr. Collins that he was befogged. Now at this hour of the day one of the plenipotentiaries comes and tells that while he voted for it in London he would not vote for it in Dublin. I cannot understand that point of view and I think we are entitled to an explanation. That is all I have got to say (applause).
I won't detain you very long; because we started discussing the genesis of the Treaty, and from that drifted on to the Treaty itself although it was originally intended that the Treaty should be debated in public. We are now debating the Treaty itself. I think it would be more to the point if we spent the time debating here another issue, its rejection or ratification. We could maintain as far as possible an outward union at least to the nation that is to prevent anything in the way of a split amongst the Assembly or amongst ourselves. I think our time this evening really would be better spent at that. At the same time there would be a general desire on the part of the members to proclaim themselves. At this point don't think that the expression of any private member like myself is going to sway anyone and therefore it will not be necessary for me to go into arguments one way or another but as precisely I can give my views. First of all I believe that the action of the delegates in signing the documents was perfectly legal and legitimate. With regard to the Treaty itself I cannot reconcile it to my principles although I value the arguments made here by those who supported the Treaty that the alternative to ratification is a most disastrous one for the country itself. Whether it be war or by a proclamation of a general election by Lloyd George that the question be immediately put before the country it means a split for the country which would be just as disastrous as physical war as that whatever way it goes it will be a general disaster for the country if the Treaty is not accepted. I don't hold out any high hopes that there will be any other alternative. The result is that anything I could possibly do to reconcile it to my conscience I would do it to avoid that fait accompli. The last word I had from the president of my Comhairle Cheanntair when leaving to this session was, "for God's sake don't get us a split". The constituencies didn't attempt to bind my hands in any manner and I came here with an open mind altogether. Strongly prejudiced against the Treaty at the start, but I make this admission that my mind is still open until the truce [recte Treaty] comes to vote. The thing is too serious to make up one's mind in the cast iron mould and be afraid of changing it because you have said one thing or another (Hear, hear). At present I find there are two things in that document which I could not in conscience take. I could never bring myself to take that Oath of Allegiance to a foreign king. And that oath is landrum [recte laid down] in the Treaty although it does not state "allegiance". I fully admit with Deputy Hogan that the word "faithful" has not the same meaning as "allegiance" but it does mean faithful and "faithful" has a meaning and it means faithful to the King in a dual position in virtue of Ireland's common citizenship with Great Britain and her adherence to membership of the Commonwealth or words to that effect. The King has a dual status. As King of Great Britain he commands a position and has just the same power which he had over India or Egypt and all the associated states of Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. These words, the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain, in my opinion being in the two statuses of the King I swear to be faithful to him in the dual position. Now I am faced with this: Will I perjure myself? Can I perjure myself and violate my own conscience and dishonour my honour to avoid disaster for the country? Up to the present I cannot bring myself to do it. My personal honour and conscience are to me sacred things. I know that men in the past have violated their personal honour for the sake of their nations. I could not do it up to the present and whether between this and tomorrow I will have got over the gap I cannot say. I am only letting you have my own views and my personal position. I am claiming no infallibility for my views and I am throwing no slur on the honour and integrity of the men who differ from me or of the men who do consider that their previous adherence to the Republican ideal is consistent with their acceptance of this Treaty. The next point I wish to raise is this. Is it possible for other members when speaking to confine themselves as short as possible and if we could before we break up find our minds dum [sic] to what we can do to preserve an assented [sic] nation. We have all up to the present been as cemented as concrete. There is no doubt about the question and we can get it together. The question is can we get it back and that is a more serious matter than any long disquisition on these verbal matters. I think most people have made up their minds one way or the other and I think we ought to settle ourselves down to considering this suppose this Treaty is rejected Lloyd George may take the inner course and not declare war but compel us by press propaganda or announcing a general election to go to the people and present them with their answer. If that takes place it is more than likely that both parties may take it to the hustings to use an old expression and there may be bitterness. Would it not be possible that we refuse to play into the hands of Mr. Lloyd George and that if there is anything put to the country it would be put not as one party against another but as something in the nature of a plebiscite. In other words that we did not go forward as two parties one Republican and the other anti-Republican for I claim we are all Republicans and as Republicans we put it up to the people whether at the present moment they are willing to accept an internal association with the British Empire. I am only [throwing] out this as an illustration of what might be done to prevent the disastrous consequences of a split in the country. War is not so serious for this reason. It can be easier dealt with because I take it that if we reject that Treaty we will be united in abiding by the decision of the majority of the Dáil and that our army will fight unitedly as far as it can. Although I do agree that the army is not in as good a position to fight the British army as some people seem to think but so far as it can be put up resistance. It will be only on lines of how best to carry it on and that there will be no recriminations on whose fault it is or it is not.
The last speaker has made a few good suggestions and I would like to hear some of the Ministers on them before I go any further that is if the Minister will say whether or not there is going to be any action taken on them. If not I will go on. I am not a politician. I do not know how to make a speech, thank God. The previous speaker (Mr. Hogan) said the people had not given a mandate for the Republic at the last general election. Here is the manifesto to the Irish people in 1918. "Sinn Féin gives Ireland an opportunity of vindicating her honour, of pursuing with renewed confidence the policy of National Salvation by rallying to the flag of the Irish Republic."
On a point of order I said "at the last general election".
The words in that manifesto were, "For the confirmation of the legitimacy of the Republic."
Another vexed question raised by Mr. Hogan was the Oath. A great many clever men seem to think it is not an oath and others seem to think it is because Lloyd George himself seems to think it is. I am a Republican and I hope there remain Republicans so many great men have changed I fear for myself too. Touching on the different documents, certainly I am not in love with Tweedledum or Tweedledee but still I believe there is a difference but it is not a difference worth fighting about. Now some Deputies have said that allowing these men to go to London was sufficient guarantee on our part that we were prepared for a certain amount of compromise. I deny that the words "arivate [recte associate] with" can mean absolutely nothing that they are anaveratious [recte associations] as France could be with England. We are not trying ourselves in any way and I think the President made that clear in his speech. I also used to think that Lloyd George had bluffed this country. I think the President is really the man who started this asseveration [recte association] idea in the country. It is not a matter of killing soldiers at all. This is not a war similar to the one that England was waging against Germany. She could and should round up every German in the country. England could not do that with Irishmen at all and Irishmen would always be there. That is the peculiar difference, I think. All this talk about English extermination we have heard ever since we were youngsters. I say that 50 men in England would be able to counteract any destruction that the British could do because thanks to British oppression we are not a manufacturing country like England and if she destroyed every home in Ireland I believe in 5 years we could re [gap in original]. England depends upon her factories and shipyards and we could work more destruction in England than she could on us. At any rate, it would be a permanent loss to England and it would be only a temporary loss to us. We are not going to to fight the whole British nation. Fifty men across in England could do more damage than a serious fighting.
The police will not let them through.
I suppose that is a joke.
It is only his own experience.
Commandant McKeon says people would not support us. He has a right to his own opinion in that part of Ireland he speaks for. I say the people of Tipperary will support us and from Tipperary down to the sea. Another point. [Did] Mr. Barl [recte Brugha] make any effort to put things right and to try and have the position of the army better than it was? I think every man on that staff should answer for himself as to why we are not in a better position and I think whoever is responsible should speak up and say what he thinks of it. It does seem strange to me and everyone else that we are not in a better position. It seems to me and I have reason for saying it that there was an effort to get arms out of this country. I believe there has been criminal negligence on the part of someone, two or three or four. I think I remember somewhere of a black book in 1801. Possibly there will be [a] black book now and that men may not think it disgraceful now, but when the people see the things in their perspective perhaps 10 years hence it will be different. Will the Volunteers follow this new Government? I know that I can speak at any rate for my own brigade and I do not believe they will.
Which new Government?
I do not think that requires to be answered this Government that is electing itself as a buffer state between us and the British. As the President has said I think and I know many Volunteers will think that this will be ultra vires and will have no binding, moral, legal or any other weight with us.
I am one of the Headquarters Staff but prefer to speak as an ordinary member of this House rather than as a member of the General Headquarters Staff. I am not a speaker and this is the first time I am speaking. I want to be as brief as possible and to state the position from my knowledge of the country. I should say at the very outset that I take full responsibility for saying unreservedly that I am in favour of the ratification of this Treaty. I may be called a coward for making that statement but I do not mind whether I am or not so long as I have not been called coward for the last 2 or 3 years. I did not study the Treaty very carefully but I see two points in it that commend themselves to me. The first is that it achieves what we have been talking and striving for since the fight began and that is that the British soldier and British Peeler will never again be seen in Ireland. The second point that struck me was that we would have an army of our own fully armed and equipped. I do not want to go so very fully into the other parts of the Treaty except to say that for the last 3 or 4 years [recte days] we have been in a kind of muddle. On the first day it was a matter of the Treaty as put before us against the Republic and those people who were in favour of the Treaty were greeted over there with a tricolour flag with a black band around it. I hold I am not one of those responsible for the black band around the flag because if our delegates are responsible then our Cabinet is responsible, then the whole House is responsible because I did not think our delegates when sent to London would bring back a Republic but I do think they did bring back something that would be towards it. On the second day of our deliberations we dropped the Republic; everybody dropped it (Cries of, No, no.) At least we dropped the questions of discussing the Treaty versus the Republic but a Treaty [versus] a second treaty and we were told then there was only a shadow of difference between the second meeting of [sic] the Treaty signed. On the 3rd day we got back to the Republic and we were told that there was only a shadow of difference between the Treaty No. 2 and the Republic. That is the position we find ourselves in. As I said before I do not think there were 6 members of this House who objected when our delegates were sent across to negotiate with the enemy on this matter. I do not think there were 6 members of this House who said the terms of reference must be curtailed and I think it is very dishonest to put our plenipotentiaries in the dock and say, "Because you did not bring back a Republic you let us down." We must consider what our position really is and must not bring down the honour of these men before the Irish nation. So far as I am concerned it is honour first and liberty next. When our delegates were chosen they were chosen because of their fidelity, courage and their honour. We have given our trust to those men and we should not relieve [recte revile] them when they have shown themselves worthy of our trust. As regards to the form of oath it appears from most of the discussion, and so far as I am concerned, to be divided into two parts the first part says we give allegiance to Ireland and the second part we promise to be faithful to King George as head of the group of nations. I do not want to take an oath to any English king but I do say the first part neutralises the second. If you bear true allegiance to Ireland I say the rest has no meaning. You must first of all swear to be loyal to Ireland and I think the other matter is a mere form of words after that. I was speaking to a very distinguished member of the Irish hierarchy and for the sake of argument I agreed [recte argued] against the Treaty and he is in favour of it. I told him I take that then I will not be able to shoot any more Peelers. "Oh," he said, "you will be no worse than you were before". I should say as far as I am concerned I do not mind about these symbols because I realise that it is by force and force alone that England holds this country. It is not symbols that we have been up against all along. It is force. Then when the Treaty force is removed then I feel it will be in a position to develop our national life. As regards the question of the resumption of hostilities we have heard a good deal of talk here on the subject. I do not pretend to be a prophet in the matter but I know the country pretty well. I know what the position is. Well I know what our position was in London when our people there were being shadowed; I know the position in Dublin when every office and department was covered and three or four lorries of armed Auxiliaries were travelling through the streets of the city. I know that the Truce would have been broken inside two hours and, if the delegates did not meet again, I know that here and there there would be outbreaks on a small scale which would lead to this. We know that human nature could not allow the enemy to go unrequited so to speak. That is the position and whether it would be well for us to continue in that position indefinitely is for us to decide. So far as I am concerned if this is to go on we would be as well to start at once. If we allow this thing the enemy will get into the position he held before July 1st last. If that were so I would recommend every company to strike and strike within 24 hours. I feel on this question of keeping the Truce that it is impossible and I am glad the Minister for Defence agrees with me on that matter. The alternative of war [was] referred to. For me war has no horrors. I am not a bit afraid of war and the men as I know them have no fear of it. We want to get the enemy out of the house, and I consider the position certainly more satisfactory when we get the enemy out of the house than running the risk of trying to get them out by force of arms. The only pleasure in freedom is fighting for it. At the same time we have a big responsibility placed on our shoulders. Lives of young men of Ireland were in our hands and we know that in the building up of the nation we will require them. I am not a bit afraid myself nor are my men afraid of war, but the responsibility rests on this House of offering the young men as [gap in original] to for what they can secure now by the mere acceptance of this Treaty. It is no breach of honour. If I felt this was a finality I would not approve of it. I feel that, under it, it will be in a stronger and better position to deal with England. We know too in the intermination [recte interpretation] of the Treaty several matters of difference arise and we will have several opportunities of getting back with honour. As regards Mr. Fahy who spoke this morning I think I should say a little about my experience of the country, that I have been in three-quarters of Ireland and I know the position pretty well. During the last six months there I met many Volunteers. As a member of the Headquarters Staff I have been meeting Volunteers in every portion of Ireland and know what they feel and what the country feels in the matter. It is only right therefore and the country should give you the benefit of my experience [sic]. I want to say first that if the war is resumed I as one shall be in the forefront and the officers and men will do their best in every way. I agree with the Minister of Defence that since the Truce there has been an improvement in the members and discipline of the men and that they are a little better in the way of equipment. We certainly have improved but we have to consider where the balance of improvement lies, whether on ours or the enemy's side, how far we can carry on with honour as regards Ulster. The Deputy for Monaghan referred to the Partition Act but certain parts of Cavan and certain parts of Donegal would come under the next boundary. We in Monaghan have been able to deal with the enemy there without very many arms. I think Comdt. McKeon will speak for Cavan and I think so far as Donegal is concerned there are several Teachtaí from it here who will speak, but I do say that taking up the five Northern divisions including County Louth of these counties and some of the Teachtaí from those areas can contradict me if I am not correct. As regards the Six Counties we have done pretty well in the past against the Orangemen with the equipment we had but we did feel that the enemy were better equipped than we were. If they were not better equipped we would not have to fight against these people because they are cowards but we made damn good use of the material we had. As regards other parts of Ireland, Leinster I need not speak about it First Eastern Division I want to say I wished it were stronger more particularly around Dublin. He was not important that Dublin enemies centre would be in a better position [sic]. In the future I hope they will be able to keep the enemy confined in Dublin. As regards the other portion of Leinster, the men from Wicklow will speak for themselves. We will [gap in original] to them please God when the fight begins again. As regards the Midlands they have been covered already but I do want to refer to the Eastern [recte Western] Area. I have been all through the West and I am glad to pay my tribute to the Volunteers of the West. I have never met a nobler or manlier body of men than the Volunteers of Connemara and Mayo. The poor fellows often travelled as far as 50 miles to meetings and they have taken full advantage of the Truce to go through an effective course of training. Regarding the question of the Republic, I hold I am a Republican. I hold that the action I am taking in this case is towards the Republic. I feel that to act otherwise would be to deny the men that would secure the Republic arms. I recognise it as a stepping stone only, I regard it as not being final, otherwise I would be false to my oath and my country. As regards the question of coming back the President said he hoped a Republican Party would be returned to An Dáil. I hope so very sincerely. I am not recognised as a Republican. I will not seek re-election. If there is one man or woman who feels I have turned down the Republic I will not seek their suffrages.
A Chinn Chomhairle, I am not going to make a speech. I am only going to deal with a few things that struck me during the debate yesterday and today. What I want to say is that the nature of a speech will be made at a public meeting of the Dáil. The first thing I noticed was the statements made reiterating that when the negotiations were entered into that all of us swallowed our principles. I want to say I did not swallow any principle, I defy anybody here to tell me that I did. When the Truce broke out, broke out perhaps is the right word, Lloyd George issued his invitation to discuss the Irish situation. I felt that all was perfectly right. The Truce on our part did not involve the breaking of any principle. To have refused to discuss the situation would have certainly put us very wrong in the eyes of the world and when our delegates went to London, and now we are asked why we did not raise any question when they were appointed, I say the thought would have been unworthy of me as a Republican to be questioned on motives of any other Republican but I did not for a moment think or I would have spoken then that the negotiations were going to result in this, in what I can only call without offence to anybody for whom I speak, we may find what I believe the betrayal of the Republic. You could go to London or anywhere to talk about that subject that the delegates went to talk about. I do not believe that we could reach a satisfactory solution of this question because I could never see how the interest of the British Empire and the national aspirations Ireland could be reconciled and I did not believe at that stage that they could be because the Irish Republic and the British Empire are such vitally different things, one imperial and the other antithesis. I did not see how they could be reconciled but I did think the negotiations gave a unique opportunity of bringing this case of ours to the front and having it thrashed out with the British Government with the eyes of the world looking on. I did not expect the delegates would come back with anything because I did not expect we were going to win the Irish Republic through talking, therefore when people said we swallowed the principle I said not. I stand now where I always stood, for the Irish Republic. The Speaker of the House addressing us yesterday asked us were not we all Republicans, and everybody said yes. I just wish to show what a great deal of harm may be done in thinking. He then asked were any of us Dominion Home Rulers, and everybody said no, and I hold you cannot deny the existence of the Irish Republic and remain a Republican. This Treaty is a denial of the Republic. We are not looking or seeking for Irish independence. Irish independence existed since 21st January 1919, and it is not to-day we ask for the Republic. We are defending it. Now to me at least it has been an actual thing, not something to be visualised. I hope before God I am prepared to go down in this struggle rather than surrender that principle. To me, I may differ from a great many minds here, the victory was not everything but to me the winning of it was everything. I believe there was only one straight path which leads to this ideal of ours and that it was only by going the straight way when members stand up and tell you they will continue to be Republicans [sic]. I have not fought for that Treaty. I do not doubt that in five years hence I venture to say those men will not be Republicans. I for one, holding the principles I do, could not, if this Treaty is approved, have hand, act or part in the Government of this country or serve in what would become to me the Irish dominion, or neither could anybody else who believes as I do. While we would all love to be together as comrades yet the passing of this Treaty would irrevocably break me away from this gathering or other gathering if it accepted this Treaty. We will talk of what will happen in four or five years time. We know that human nature is weak no matter how strong we think ourselves today. After a month of Truce we don't want to go on with another fight. I say after five or six years' peace we will certainly not go on with it. Under the terms of this the people of this country, though you may not think so, because [recte become] British citizens and we who stand by the Republic still will I presume rebel against the new Government that would be set up if this Treaty is passed. [It] would to us occupy the same position that Dublin Castle occupied in the past. It would simply stand between us and the British Government. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings but somebody mentioned South Africa went to fight the British Government. They fought their own people between them and the British Government. Somebody denied, I think it was my friend Alex MacCabe, talked about Nelson and his blind eye. To illustrate his remark you turn your blind eye to the Irish Republic and you save the British Empire.
Somebody yesterday spoke about the wishes of the people. I hold I was elected as a Republican. I never asked anybody to elect me but having been elected I hold I was elected here on the basis of an Irish Republic existing. I have not yet been told that the Irish people scrapped the Irish Republic and when they tell me down in Galway you were elected to get something less I will tell them you may dispense with me. I know that if this question were put before the people that they would vote for this Treaty because they have been left no other choice. The ground here has been cut from under their feet; it would not be a fair test if the people under existing circumstances so that anybody what we all know [sic]. We are warned of the consequences of a split or division but you can only have unity on the principle and those who will depart from this principle are in my opinion responsible for any division or split because those who will alter the status of Ireland for [recte from] a Republic will cause any division or split. I am not going to talk about the action of the delegates. They have acted as they thought best but I do say that on the question of unity, of preventing a division, of stopping a split that there is one way it can be done and that is by the rejection of this Treaty. You can come with us but we who are against it cannot go with you. Yesterday from the remarks the President made it might be inferred that you had got to vote either for this Treaty or reject it and that afterwards we could all meet here again and so merrily on. I don't know whether the President meant that or not but I know at this moment we are at the most fateful crisis and that in the history of this country that we have built up we are at this moment on the verge of overturning in my opinion. I am prepared to walk the way we always went the quiet of peace and war. I suppose the document came in to-day or yesterday but since I was fourteen years of age the question of peace and war does not count in this matter. It does not count in this matter but what does count is this matter we are going to fling away for the fear and the consideration of war the Irish Republic.
The Deputy for Galway said the question of peace or war does not enter into this discussion as far as he is concerned. I presume he means personally if it were a matter for us to go out and offer up our lives, to do something to make Ireland more free, there would be no need to continue this debate. If we thought that by offering our lives we would make Ireland better and offer to bring the Irish nation more life we would do it. Some hard, nasty, personal remarks have been passed all day especially as to what the dead would have done. I have no proud memories to relate to this Assembly but I have this to say, that I was the person who hoisted the white flag over the G.P.O. in Easter Week. I did it because Seán MacDermott, Lord have mercy on him, was unable to stand on his feet at the time. That is not a very proud memory; it is a very sad one; but I believe that this act in itself was a good act for the Irish nation; that it is the Irish nation that commits [recte counts] whether it be a Republic, a Free State or an Irish Kingdom. My gallant friend, the Deputy for Galway, said that there was no intention of anybody there giving way on the Republic. I feel that we are too much on the word "Republic". Remember the President said if possible we could get an association of the Irish Republic with the British Empire. I take it that he meant the Irish nation would not put the British Empire down to a Republic. It is as I say no part of our business to decide whether the government of this country is to be a Republican government or to be another one. I know why I was elected to this Assembly. The greatest argument I used and as a matter of fact I used some arguments to get elected. Séamus Lennon the senior member used the same argument and that argument was taken from Thom's Directory. The population of county Carlow in 1914 [recte 1841] was 86,000 and in 1911 it was 36,000 so that in 70 years Carlow lost 50,000 people. That is the Irish nation we are put here to save; and it is because I said to those people by voting for Séamus Lennon you will be voting to put out of this country the people that did that in 70 years. I have not figures for Kildare but I remember my friend the Minister of [gap in original] was then in Belfast Jail I remember at the time. If our figures, and I used a similar argument, count that is what we should remember individual nations and our lives should not count but the life of the nation does count. It was because when the people put before them that evil of the race murder, it is because we put that publicly before them when the first Dáil was elected and as I believe legitimately at the [gap in original] of the nation. If this Treaty be rejected let us omit from [recte for] the moment this issue of peace and war that race of instruction [recte destruction] which brought about 50,000 people, not to mention extinction of the natural increase in population, that 50,000 were scattered all over the world and they had become the backbone of the movement which sought the recognition of the Irish Republic in America. Mind the Irish race and people are being extinguished while we sit here arguing whether we will have external or internal association with another nation. Speaking for the 36,000 that are left in the county, there are 16,000 voters, I want to say this about them. I am not going to speak and will not speak on army matters. There are most irregular and unjust questions to these matters here in justice to the Minister for Defence. We should have some statements regarding verification of the charge levelled against the Minister of Defence because I have heard it stated that the Minister responsible did not do all was possible for the procurement of arms. To do that Minister justice and all the members of his staff they did the best they could for Ireland. Of this 36,000 people left in County Carlow when it comes to war every man, woman and child will have to be defended. If you reject the Treaty war is the consequence.
The Deputy went on to refer to army matters and continuing said: In this matter it is not for the soldier to decide what the country should do. What the army will do and can do depends upon the morale of people to build up the Government, maintain it and I say here and I am sure I will not be contradicted that there is no Minister did more than the Army Minister to keep alive the Government of Ireland. That is why I feel a double responsibility in giving an opinion on this Treaty. I heard so many speeches during the past two or three days about people who never compromised or anything left on where I did not compromise [sic] but I would like to say that the people of Ireland want Irish freedom and they do not know what a Republic means. If a Republic is the best thing for Ireland they are for a Republic seeing it is the best for Ireland. We are faced today, at least on Monday, with a decision. We are asked to decide between certain types of association, internal and external. The alternative is not leaving the association. We are told we will have to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the King of England. We have never heard of an oath of allegiance to individuals in this country. We always found these things very hard to swallow. I was enquiring for some friends what exactly this oath meant. You will be told if it means anything from a hundred other things, first it is an oath of allegiance to Ireland. When the Parliament of the new Government of Ireland is set up it will draw up its own constitution to which you are loyal and once said you will be faithful to the king because he is one of the contracting parties. Suppose this person said when a man gets married he promises to be faithful to his wife which is a very different thing from owning allegiance to her (A voice, "Wait until you get married"). Other Deputies insist on telling me their domestic troubles. He explained to me according to English law if one party to the contract is unfaithful that a contract is dissolved. I do not know whether we are bound down in this Assembly to swear that at no future date will we divorce King George but I do know that we certainly cannot swear for the next generation or any other. Somebody referred to the tricolour being draped. I saw the tricolour oftener in mourning than anybody here. I saw the tricolour in mourning when there were very few to look at it, very few who had the courage to look at it covering the remains of two of the greatest soldiers. I speak of Dick McKee and Peadar Clancy. Very few had the courage to come out and see the tricolour draped on their coffins and screw the lids on the coffins. I have been thinking ever since I saw this Treaty of many conversations I had on these two men and I certainly would not say that either of them would vote against this Treaty. It has been said that voting for this Treaty was to run away from the tricolour, to run away from Irish freedom, of [recte from] everything good for Ireland. I would just say this much: that I think when there was running away it was not the plenipotentiaries who signed the Treaty who did it. (Hear, hear!).
The session adjourned at 6.15 p.m.
On resuming the Speaker took the Chair at 7.15 p.m. and called on Miss MacSwiney.
At the outset I should like to say that I must ask from the members of the Dáil for forgiveness if I speak too long. I stand here tonight in the name of the dead to ask the men of this Assembly, and I know I need not wish [sic] the women, every one of you to face your consciences tonight to ask yourselves if you are going to disunite this country, to create a split where we had the [recte been] most perfectly united to all appearances at all events, whether we are going on Monday, before the world, a watching waiting, anxious world, to act together by a large majority so that there need be no questioning if or whether we are going to split this Assembly into two halves and drive the country back again for a generation, and as Deputy Liam Mellowes has already pointed out there is only one way of doing that and that is the way of principle. I have already said that those who stand for expediency could yield to those who stand for right but those who stand for principle could not yield to those who stand for expediency; and tonight and this afternoon I have been more grieved than I have at any time for the last three days to find the young army officers that we were so proud of, the young men whose praise we sent from one [end] of the world to the other, talking like soldiers should not talk. The issue is not between peace and war; it is between right and wrong, and no man could salve his conscience talking about what is necessary for the peace of the country. I have said that I stand here in the name of the dead. One Deputy has already said that he stands here tonight because he was in Ballykinlar not from any merit of his own. I am not going to make to you tonight a sentimental appeal. I want to speak to you logically and I want you to realise that this is a time for the searching of souls as we were told in 1914. Search your souls tonight and in the face of every martyr that ever died for Ireland take an oath in your own hearts now that you will do what is right no matter what influences have been brought to bear on you. I do not speak of my right any more than I do of others to allude to those who have gone but I ask those here tonight who are putting expediency before principle to kindly leave the names of the dead out of their speeches. I consider myself in a different position from most of those who have suffered, for every other person who lost one near and dear to her lost him suddenly. I did not For 74 days I eat [sic] a thought and let me tell you in 74 days you have much time for thinking. I weighed the cost, I weighed every thought. I am not a fool though I have been told I was a fool if I thought this Dáil did not mean to compromise. I do not think I am a fool and sitting there by that death bed the like of which has never been known in the world before I looked at this question which we are facing tonight from every possible angle from the orthodox point of view, from the national point of view, and I asked myself, when talking with my dying brother I asked him, was it worth the cost, and we decided it was, and one of the last things he ever said to me was, "Thank God there will be no more compromise now". Therefore I have for the last fifteen months given more attention to the matter from every point of view than many members of this Assembly. I have all my life since I grew up been somewhat of a psychologist and a keen student of human nature. I have read the history of my country and I have read the history of Europe pretty thoroughly and of England through and through. I have read not only the histories of these countries but have studied the character of the people, and I must at the outset of this speech of mine tonight, and if it does not enter into detail you will surely forgive me when you realise that this is probably one of the last appeals to those whose minds are still open on this matter. Judging from the many speeches I have heard, judging also from other things I have asked myself tonight is it worth while talking. Has every man in this Assembly already made up his mind for good or for evil? If there is among you tonight [anyone] with an open mind let him listen with an open mind the right versus wrong [principle] versus expediency, and when those of you who have already made up your minds I ask of you to at least listen to see if you cannot change them. It is only a fool who boasts that he never changes his mind then. A great American has said that every man who says he is consistent and will not change his mind simply means that he has no mind to change. We who have been entrusted with the destinies of this country for good or evil in a crisis such as never before has faced us, let us beware how [as] personalities on one side or the other we take a position which future generations will hold us to account for. I am going into the history a little tonight of these negotiations for I consider that the honour of every member of this Dáil has been impeached. My colleague for Cork, Liam de Róiste, has said that Deputy MacDonagh and myself are the only two people who have a right to speak. That is not so. On the dead I issued my challenge and I will come back to my right to answer that challenge in answer to Deputy Hogan in a moment. Several people spoke there and why Mr. MacDonagh and myself should be given the supreme honour of being considered the only sincere people who spoke I do not know. It has been said that the Deputies to the delegation did not exceed their powers. That is conceded by the President. What the powers of plenipotentiaries are supposed to be we had definitions from Webster's dictionary and other dictionaries in the papers for some days past, but everyone knows perfectly well for the last 200 years the word "plenipotentiaries" has been most loosely used. The Germans who went to Versailles recently were called plenipotentiaries but they did not have the power to sign anything until they took it back to their Government, and I hold that our delegation, even if they had the power to sign technically, were in honour by paragraph 3 of the President's instructions not entitled to sign any document at all with- out their submitting it to An Dáil. But on on the question of the credentials we are told this Dáil sent them with the full knowledge that they were empowered to sign any document. I maintain that An Dáil is only committed to the written statements that the Dáil agreed to and the written credentials given by the President of the Republic. I am going to read for you the very last statement that went out from this door and I shall read it in its entirety, that is the Dáil credentials to the delegation, the Dáil's statement that they were going to stand by and if any Deputy meant less than that I understand he should have said so. Deputy Hogan rather sarcastically enquired what right had any member to challenge any other member to make a speech if he did not want to. I shall deal with that in a moment. Let me give first the credentials given by An Dáil, the terms of reference of the delegation as they went to London. "Sir", writes our President to Mr. Lloyd George, "We have no hesitation in declaring our willingness 'to enter a Conference to ascertain how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations'. Our readiness to contemplate such an association was indicated in our letter of August 10th. We have accordingly summoned Dáil Éireann that we may submit to it for ratification the names of the representatives it is our intention to propose. We hope that these representatives will find it possible to be at Inverness on the date you suggest, September 20th. In this final note", it was the Dáil's final note to these plenipotentiaries, "we deem it our duty to reaffirm that our position is and can only be as we have defined it throughout this correspondence. Our nation has formally declared its independence and recognises itself as a sovereign State. It is only as the representatives of that State and as its chosen guardians that we have any authority or powers to act on behalf of our people. As regards the principle of 'Government by the consent of the governed', in the very nature of things it must be the basis of any agreement that will achieve the purpose we have at heart, that is the final reconciliation of our nation with yours. We have suggested no interpretation of that principle save its every-day interpretation, the sense, for example, in which it was understood by the plain men and women of the world when on January 5th, 1918, you said: 'The settlement of the new Europe must be based on such grounds of reason and justice as will give some promise of stability. Therefore it is that we feel that Government with the consent of the governed must be the basis of any territorial settlement in this war'. These words are the true answer to the criticism of our position which your last letter puts forward. The principle was understood then to mean the right of nations that had been annexed to empires against their will to free themselves from the grappling hook. That is the sense in which we understand it. In reality it is your Government, when it seeks to rend our ancient nation and to partition its territory, that would give to the principle an interpretation that 'would undermine the fabric of every democratic State and drive the civilised world back into tribalism.' "
On the 14th of last September that letter was read to the Deputies here present and it was received with loud and prolonged applause. I confess that it was a very great relief to my mind for I had arrived back from America on the 1st of last August and had come straight into an atmosphere of what I can only call compromise. I was told to the right and to the left of me that we could not possibly get a Republic, that the conference meant this, that on the other thing [sic]. I maintain that it did not but I went to that meeting on September the 14th in fear and trembling for fear any single vote of principle would be given away and in that letter of the President's I maintain there is not one bit of principle given away and that this Dáil subscribed most heartily to that final note we wrote to Lloyd George. Therefore that was the Dáil's terms of reference to our plenipotentiaries. Next comes the credentials given by the President as head of the Republic of Ireland to the British Government, "In virtue of the authority vested in me by Dáil Éireann I hereby appoint Arthur Griffith T.D." I need not read all the names "as envoys plenipotentiary from the Elected Government of the Republic of Ireland to negotiate and conclude on behalf of Ireland with the representatives of his Britannic Majesty George V, a Treaty or Treaties of settlement, association and accommodation between Ireland and the community of nations known as the British Commonwealth in witness whereof I hereunder subscribe my name as President". We have been told that our delegation went without any terms of reference. I maintain that it is not true. They went first and foremost bound by their oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic sarcastic allusions to the nature of which we have heard very often during the last few days. They went bound by the last note of Dáil Éireann to Lloyd George which I have just read for you, and they went bound by the credentials given to them and these credentials were given to them only by the President of the elected Government of the Republic of Ireland. Now formally that much is true. Not in fact but formally Lloyd George refuses to see them as the elected representatives or from the elected Government of the Republic of Ireland. He wanted them to go and settle Dominion Home Rule and we as a Dáil refused to allow them to go as that. We cannot get away from that. Following that letter of the 14th September many telegrams passed between our President and the British Prime Minister. Some of them I told you frankly I did not like. It seemed to me that there was in the sending of these telegrams a certain weakness. If he did not want us on our terms, I thought, let him go without, but at all events the President's final telegram made the matter clear. He said to Lloyd George that he would not go on his terms without first giving up the principle of our independence and that he was no more entitled to ask us to give up that principle than we were to ask him to recognise our Republic before we went. You all recollect that and I want you to take the facts as I give them to you. I am not asking you to take my word for anything. You all [know] perfectly well that these negotiations in order to thrash us had been going on for months. I was not here when they began. I saw allusions to them in the papers but I had perfect confluence in the President and Cabinet of the Irish Republic and the oaths they had taken to that Republic. I believe they began according to the American papers so far back as last December with Archbishop Clune trying to put a finger in the pie. Then there was somebody else and I believe the Lord Deputy [recte Derby] tried to catch our President and I don't know exactly whether I would be giving away any Cabinet secret but I am going to risk it. I learned in America that Lord Derby had come over here and after talking to the President and left him now remember I am only quoting something I heard months ago he wrote an unsigned letter saying: "Am I then to understand that you will not meet the representatives of Great Britain unless your independence is first acknowledged?" Now I am only quoting from memory and I am giving you the substance and I have not asked your permission to give it at all but I don't think that anything that has happened in the Cabinet has a right to be kept from the meeting today. I think our President very cleverly answered: "Before answering an unsigned note am I to understand that they cannot enter into a conference unless the principle of Irish independence is first abandoned?" That was the end of Lord Derby. And this I maintain, that from the beginning to the end of this conference matter, as far as the conference itself is concerned, the President has not made a mistake in anything he has said or written for the Republic. Whatever has gone on in the secret conclaves of the Cabinet I do not see that it matters very much. I don't know if any assembly ever came together where there were not differences in the Cabinet. In the documents which were presented to us now is the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee? I cannot quite agree with that but I am not going to dwell on that one matter for the moment. I want to deal further with the attitude of this Dáil towards that conference. Now I am in a position here, a curious position, rather an anomalous one in one way, because generally when you are trying to bring people to agreement you are the middle between two extremes, but I am in the position of an extremist between two sets of moderates. I will not call myself a diehard, because I object to that word. Principle is immortal as Mr. Kevin O'Higgins said yesterday and that is about the one thing which he said with which I could agree with him. Principle is immortal and cannot die, and therefore those of us who stand on principle are among the immortals not diehards. I want to take this question and I want you to have patience if I seem to dwell too much on it because it is of vital importance in the present issue. The delegation then went from the Dáil and the last document of that Dáil was an absolutely uncompromising Republican document and I defy anybody to say anything to the contrary. Now there seems to have been in the minds of many a suggestion that compromise was intended, that we could not get a Republic and that nobody could be so foolish as to go to talk to the English unless we meant compromise, but it seems as if I had been talking to the air because certainly it made no difference whatever to the point of view of anybody so far as I could see and therefore I deem it for my honour to say to this Dáil and for the honour of those who think like me that we did not mean to compromise when we sent those men to London and that if we did not get what was consistent with the Republic we meant to turn it down. They were not entitled to sign anything, not entitled by any terms of reference though they might by a legal technicality. We have heard a good deal of talk from the Minister of Finance over and over again about the befogged state of his mind in view of the legal qualities, the legal clauses. Well I confess I know a great deal less than the Minister of Finance about legal clauses. I know nothing about them and I don't want to know. I am quite sure that it must be a supremely honest lawyer who can be an honest man at the same time. I am but a plain member of this Dáil with a plain straight intelligence that refuses point blank to draw the veil of my hypocrisy over my conscience for anyone. Words must be words and it is absurd for the Minister of Finance to plead that his befogged state arose from legal technicalities. There is nothing legal whatever about that Oath of Allegiance that he is asking us to take, nothing that is not understandable by the intelligence of the merest child. That is not the intelligence of the Minister of Finance for I think one of the most remarkable things is the wonderful intelligence that has been shown by these men to whom the destinies of the country have been committed. Who, six years ago, could have expected this country could have produced at a moment's notice statesmen and soldiers of the highest quality, and that our Cabinet and those who have acted for us in this matter have been the wonder of the world? Our soldiers have commanded admiration of the world, and I am glad that the world has not been listening to some of them today. Who could have expected six years ago that men drawn from all kinds of life, clerks and professors, and plain teachers, and I don't know what business or profession half of them were. But who were they six years ago? Nobodies, and today they stand in a position commanding the admiration of the world, and they stand on it because they stood on the rock of principle and if they compromise they go down in the admiration of the world and they go down absolutely in the admiration of their own people, for say what you like about this Treaty, it is a compromise of principle. We have heard a great deal about war tonight and the horrors of war. You men that talk need not talk to us about war. It is the women who suffer, it is the women who suffer the most of the hardships that war brings. You can go out in the excitement of the fight and it brings its own honour and its own glory. We have to sit at home and work in more humble ways, we have to endure the agony, the sunshines, the torture of misery and the privations which war brings, the horror of nightly visitations to our houses and their consequences. It is easier for you than it is for us, but you will not find in Ireland a woman who has suffered who today will talk as the soldiers here today have talked, and I ask the Minister for Defence, if that is the type of soldier he has, in heaven's name send the women as your officers next time. It is not a laughing matter for anybody, none whatever. I know nothing of our army matters. I say this for myself, that I have never asked a question that I ought not to ask from an officer or anybody who is not entitled to give me information, but I must say this for the officers in Cork that they are absolutely honourable as far as I know and I think if anybody in Cork could get inside information about the army I would get it and I am quite sure, when they don't talk to me, they won't talk to others and they never talk about their secret orders or any army order or anything else. But what have I heard since I came to Dublin, I don't mean in the Dáil but round about the streets of Dublin? Everybody is talking about the condition of the army, everybody is saying that the army is not properly equipped, everybody is saying around the streets of Dublin today that the G.H.Q. did not want to arm them; but I do say this that if it was the business of the Minister of Finance to supply money for arms where needed it was the business of the Headquarters Staff to tell him what they wanted. If the Headquarters Staff did not use this Truce to bring arms into the country they should have done it. You may say they were bound to keep the terms of the Truce, you who are so very loose in your opinions as to what you are or are not bound to by the Oath could surely get arms in under an unsigned document from Sir Hamar Greenwood. In the House of Commons I first learned that the Truce had never been signed and that it was only a verbal agreement and that the English gave me an interpretation of what the Truce of [recte was], the Irish gave another, and if that is so I fail to see why the Minister of Defence and G.H.Q. did not spend the time of the Truce arming this country, and they could have done that if they spent as much brain power on that as they have been able to spend on their wonderful escapes which set the country in admiration and the world wondering at them. Why didn't you turn your brains to the responsibility for the arming of this country, turn your brains for getting arms in? Don't tell me you could not have done it. The excuse of expecting any intelligent person to believe that the men who come and go from America, men who can get the President to America and back as they liked, and could not get arms as they liked! They could and I know they could, and I learned a good deal in America about the slackness of the people in getting arms. I learned a good deal of things in America. I had heard before I left Ireland of the I.R.B. over and over and I knew what I.R.B. meant, and men were bound into it as a secret society and I had a great reverence for it as a body of men with a good old tradition. But I have come to the conclusion for many years past that secret societies are a great mistake. They are a refuge for weaklings, for comrades and informers and for traitors. I do not say that the men of the I.R.B. are like that now or that they have been in recent years of that type, but I learned a good deal in America about the I.R.B. that I never knew before I went there; anyhow I know this, that men who stand as I.R.B. feel themselves bound to stand together. But if you belong to the I.R.B. any of you, remember that your oath to the I.R.B. is subordinate to your oath to the Republic and that the Irish Republican Brotherhood is very much an inferior thing to the Republic established. You should have got arms. That was the discretion about the I.R.B. You should have got arms and you could have got them if you tried hard enough. Don't tell me that the clever men that we have had in G.H.Q. could not do that much. We have been told about this Treaty, and I am not going to talk about this Treaty itself but about the signing of it. We are told by several people that it was signed at the cannon's mouth. If it were it should not have been. I don't consider that is an excuse. It may be an explanation. Mr. Arthur Griffith has declared that he did not sign under duress and how are we going to reconcile those two statements you have read? I presume all of you commandants note. He says they were signed because Mr. Lloyd George shook his papers in the air and got into a rage, and he said that Mr. Griffith was letting him down and that Sir James Craig was waiting for an answer. Really! Sir James Craig waiting for an answer and a gun boat waiting to be put out is the reason why our fight for 750 years is to be lost at the last moment. Who is Sir James Craig, I ask you, that he could not wait on the will and the time of the Irish Republic? What right has Ulster, Belfast as we call it, to dictate as to whether our plenipotentiaries shall or shall not sign a document at any particular hour? Lloyd George gave his word that Sir James Craig should get an answer on Tuesday, but our delegation had given their words that they would bring back any document before they would sign it. Which word should they hold, Lloyd George's or their own? That I quite realise is not the real issue. Lloyd George claimed that he should not be let down, because if they brought back the Treaty and it was rejected he would not be quite sure that it should be signed and he could not be quite sure that it would not be made public or that something about it might not be let out. There is the issue. Perhaps you thought I was going to say something else. That is why Lloyd George shook his papers in their faces; that is why Lloyd George said they should sign or have immediate war, because his political future was at stake. Again I ask the delegation which was more important to them, keeping their word to the Irish Republic or saving Lloyd George's reputation? I believe they honestly believed that Lloyd George meant immediate war. Granted. It was no excuse for them to sign that document. They had given their word to bring back any document, and by paragraph 3 of the President's instructions they were bound to bring back any document before they signed it even though, technically speaking they had permission and power to sign it. Technically speaking they had the power but they had not, honourably speaking, the power, and it seems the irony of fate that, of all people in this country, these five men could be bluffed by Lloyd George; they believed that he meant it. They don't believe it now, at least some of them don't, and it seemed to be rather hard to get some of them to believe it at the time. Atmosphere, yes, atmosphere and the Wizard of Wales were very powerful, and mind I am not decrying Lloyd George's power or influence. He has broken another man, not a great man. Wilson came over here, came over across the Atlantic with a programme so glorious and so magnificent that, if he carried it out, it should have meant the salvation of the world, and the atmosphere of Buckingham Palace, and perhaps of Downing Street, has left Wilson a broken man broken because he lost his ideals. I have been told by someone whom I respect very much. Wilson was not broken because he was false to his ideals but that he was broken because his ideals were too high for the world at the present stage. I absolutely disagree with that point of view. The world was ready for those ideals at the moment and Wilson could have carried them out if he had been a man. Atmosphere and the wizard power of Lloyd George have left Wilson a broken, beaten man. Now we want to prevent our people, our nation, our delegation too, from the fate that has come to President Wilson, and it is not too late I believe. Though I was against a secret session, that secret session has at all events left it still in our power to regain our stand. We have lost, and lost terribly, in the last fortnight, but it is not yet beyond our power to get back most of the ground we have lost, particularly from the point of view of publicity. You know how Mr. Griffith, as I reminded you the other day, taught us to read England's tactics with regard to Ireland, taught some of us anyhow, how he spoke to us again and again about that paper wall that England had built round Ireland, and I realise how, the other day, that as far as the world was concerned the thing that tore that first paper wall down to any great extent was Brixton Jail last year, and Cork Jail. It is absolutely true that after Lloyd George sat down at the table with the representatives of our Government he could never again use the words, "Murder Gang." Last year, following my brother's death, I was asked to go to America, and the President asked me then to stay there, and while I was at Washington on the very first morning I have evidence I spoke about Ireland's right to conclude an agreement with Germany if she wanted to because I was asked why were not the Irish pro-German. I said Ireland had every right to the propaganda [recte be pro-German] if she wanted to, and what was the result? At luncheon time all our good friends gathered around me good friends of Ireland I know, but Irish-Americans in America, I am sorry to say, are 90 per cent of them of the slavemind type. I was told, "That is not a wise thing for you to say. There is a great horror of the Germans still in this country. It would be just as well you know if you passed that over lightly." After I went back from luncheon, I began by saying I would like to make a statement. I reminded them all of what I had said, and that I had advice given to me at luncheon time, and I said to them it seems to me that some of you good people like the truth and nothing but the truth, but you are afraid of the whole truth. Well, I am not afraid of the whole truth. My country has a Government, my people are a different race and we have exactly as much right to conclude a treaty with Germany if we wanted as our [recte your] forefathers did conclude a treaty with France in 1778. I did not think I lost, or my cause lost by my honesty and I want to bring to your mind on that point something which Commandant O'Duffy said tonight or this afternoon. He said that he was speaking last evening to an ecclesiastic, and that in the conversation or argument he argued against the Treaty and not for it, and he spoke rather flippantly, "I said then I may never again shoot a policeman." One does not shoot a policeman. The policemen that were shot were spies and traitors. The question I maintain was a flippant one and the answer he got was, "You would be no worse off than you were before." And it seems to me that in taking that answer Commandant O'Duffy betrayed the Republic for which he declared he stood, because if you took that Treaty and the country accepted it and sent you back, any of you, as a Government, you are in a totally different position to what you were before. It was only because we were a Government and a regularly established Government that we were justified in acting as we did. If you take it that this was not a Government formally set up in 1919 then you are justifying Lloyd George and Hamar Greenwood for calling you murderers and assassins. It has been said that men have taken oaths of allegiance; Redmond and Parnell took oaths of allegiance and we were told today by somebody that a certain man who is a Republican now, said in 1913 that he could take an oath of allegiance. Granted. They were all entitled if you like to take oaths of allegiance then if they considered it the right thing to do. One of my colleagues from Cork, Liam de Róiste, has said that he knows what his people want him to do. Now that is more than I can say and I doubt very much if Liam de Róiste and I went before the citizens of Cork and put the case shortly before them, I doubt very much if Liam de Róiste would find out that he did know as certainly as he thinks. I make this distinction between Liam de Róiste and myself. In 1918 it is absolutely correct to say that the vote given by the citizens of Ireland was rather a vote against the Party than for a Republic definitely. That is absolutely correct. But when the Deputies elected met in the first Dáil Éireann on the 21st January, I think the date was 1919, they took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Ireland which was declared on the 24th of April 1916 but which up to that moment had not functioned, and while any man could have taken the Oath of Allegiance if his conscience allowed him to up to that time, no man who since took the oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic from the 21st January 1919 ever can withdraw from that oath for this was recognised by the country and established by the Provisional Government then. That was the manifesto of the Sinn Féin Party [which] they sent out for the elections in 1918 and therefore the Deputies who were elected by a large majority were elected on the understanding that they were Republicans. I call attention to that particularly for two reasons. The first is that it has been said in the last election to which Deputy Hogan alluded that there was no mention of the Republic; the President has contradicted that and his words were very clear and very wise. It was the first time I heard them. It has again shown how careful every written word of his had been, how careful every expression given to the country has been and that is what posterity will judge him on. He did not declare that this was the Republican Manifesto, as Sinn Féin put it in 1918, but he legalised the elections of 1918. I don't remember the exact words but the significance of what he said is very great for all future time. Those who were elected in 1918, even though they went in as Republicans and the vote they got was not an entirely Republican vote, cannot claim that they are not strictly speaking members of the Irish Republican Government. Well, Deputy de Róiste did not get an opportunity last May of going forward for election, because the elections were practically uncontested but if we did not think then that he was going for a Republic I maintain he should have stood down and not gone forward.
Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, so I would have done but on the personal wish of the President I remand [sic] it.
I don't know since this Dáil met any more serious statements could be made against a Deputy than that I betrayed the Republic, and I will stand on my feet now until I get an explanation from the speaker as to what she means by saying that I betrayed my country. I have taken part in this fight for some time and I put it before this House. What I have done I don't want to go into but I want justice. I want an explanation of what she means by saying that I betrayed the Republic. I may be emotional. I ask the Leader of the House to show justice to me. I ask the speaker, before she goes any further, to explain what she means by this. If she did not mean to convey these words I will accept her apology immediately.
I did not mean, so far as he was personally concerned, that Commandant O'Duffy ever meant to betray the Republic. I know it is a difficult matter. I know perfectly well that the Deputies were elected here. A large number went into election either because they were asked to do it without realising the fundamental things at the bottom of this thing and it was because Commandant O'Duffy allowed that remark to pass that if he shot a policeman in the Irish Free State that he would be no worse off than he was before. Now I quite realise that Commandant O'Duffy did not himself realise what that implied, and I know perfectly well that he did not mean to betray the Republic and I know perfectly well that if we have to go to fight again his work for the Republic will be of a great deal more value than mine. I did not impugn his honour in the very least and I hope he will believe that, and if I gave him the impression that I did, I am sincerely sorry. I don't in the least impugn his honour. What I impugn and what I say is this, no wonder that we are going wrong on this because we don't think enough. The country has been fed with words for generations, with "trust of the leaders", and you know perfectly well that the most anybody will ask you is to save them the trouble of thinking. Now, you who are here tonight must think and think seriously and remember all we have done for the past two years
I am not entirely satisfied with the explanation given by the speaker who said that I did betray the Republic. I hold that I did not betray it intentionally or unintentionally and it is a wrong, a false, and a malicious construction to put on the words that I used.
I am not trying to put any construction that is wrong or malicious. If I said "betrayed the Republic" I wanted to
You should not use the words. I have a great respect for you, but you should not use the words.
If you or anyone shot a policeman in the exercise of his duty as an officer or soldier of the Republican Government of Ireland it was justifiable.
What about the men before December 1919? What do you say of them?
Let me answer.
The statement is so serious and I am sure every Deputy has understood how serious it is and I cannot allow this thing to go out from this Assembly. I would rather be shot on the spot, and would to God I were shot an hour ago, rather than this last statement should be made against me now. It is most unfair, most unjust. Such statements should not be used. We are supposed to act in harmony together here; we are supposed to work together. How could I or anybody else work together or come to a satisfactory conclusion upon this when such a statement as this one is made against the honour of any Irishman?
You have made your complaint sufficiently clear. It is not necessary to make it any clearer.
I have said that if the Deputy concerned thought I impugned his honour or said he betrayed the Republic, that I beg to say I meant nothing of the kind and I think the majority of the Deputies here realise perfectly well the difference in what I am saying. He did not betray the Republic in any sense.
I accept that.
What I meant to say I say again, that if any man shot a policeman as a spy except in proper war he was doing a wrong act and because we have to mind our acts before the world we have to make that plain. It was the remark, not of the Deputy, but of the ecclesiastic that I objected to.
Why didn't you say so?
I say this, and it is not a matter for laughing. I say the Deputy, if he looked upon the Government of the Irish Republic as a real Government and not a sham, should have answered that by telling that ecclesiastic to his teeth that he lied.
You did not wait for the answer.
On a point of order. It was understood all the time that, especially with the intense feelings we had for the last couple of days being ventilated, Deputies should not use words or expressions likely to raise a heated atmosphere, and I suggest that the Deputy speaking has used words that should not be used as the result of a jocular incident.
It leads, among other things, to a waste of time and, while there is no limitation of time, I have a list here of 16 persons who wish to speak this evening, and Miss MacSwiney has already been speaking for about an hour. Now, I would ask, in order to economise time if for no better reason that the Deputies when they are speaking would not make these personal rejoinders to each other but confine themselves to the main question, not to be taking up points made by each other and answering them in that personal way but confine them to the main question.
I am sorry if I am rather long. It is due to the fact I have my eyes on my watch and I am not speaking anything like an hour yet.
Oh yes, an hour and ten minutes.
I hope that I have made it quite clear to Commaniant O'Duffy that I did not impugn his personal honour.
I accept that explanation.
I am glad of that for I have told you I stand here for peace and unity. I shall be as quick as I can. I want to call your attention to one thing, and that is the question of this Oath. There is a fundamental difference here and the reason I want to speak to you about that is this: taking that Oath means spiritual surrender in this Dáil and though you may give up physical things you cannot give up spiritual things. That is why I say that you who are willing to take that Oath could come with us. We who are willing [recte unwilling] to take it cannot go with you and if there is to be unity it must be [a] unity that will count. Yesterday the Chairman of the House in his speech as a private member, declared himself as an opportunist and a practical man. I would like to read you just one quotation about the opportunists and the practical men taken from the book written by Terence MacSwiney, as a series of articles rather in John MacDermott's paper, and one of the most important was set aside with a leading article of Seán MacDermott's headed, "Damn your concessions, we want our country", and this extract from the "Principles of Freedom" reads as follows he had been talking about idealists and what that idealist who is a real practical man stands for, "But there is the other self-styled practical man who thinks all this proceeding foolish, cries out for the expedient of the hour. Has he ever realised the promise of his proposals? No, he is the most inefficient person who has ever walked the earth. But for a saving consideration let him go contemplate the wasted efforts of the opportunists in every generation, and the broken projects scattered through the desert places of history." And side by side with that he says, "I stand by this principle: no physical victory can compensate for spiritual surrender. Whatever side denies that is not my side." We cannot surrender for this principle of the Oath. If you mean to keep this Oath, and you don't keep it if you keep it you cannot say you are true to the Irish Republic; if you take it meaning to break it you are taking a false oath and you have compromised your honour. You could not for the sake of a material advantage accept a spiritual surrender. Why, it reminds us of the Israelites in getting out of the promised land trying to get back to the flesh-pots of Egypt. We want to take this thing which will give us economic prosperity for a while and we will give them, for that, the only thing that has made us stand for our freedom before the world. I feel I cannot keep you any longer, I wanted to say many things. Some of you have been talking today that it is not a question of principle; it is Document No. 1 against Document No. 2. It is nothing of the kind. Document No. 2, in any case, does not contain an oath. Document No. 2 does not give away the principle of the Republic, and I think it was a man today who told us that he was responsible as a good Irish solicitor dropping Pádraig Pearse and the Poblacht na hÉireann and putting in its place Saorstát na hÉireann. Provided you get the thing are you going to be foolish enough to think that you are getting the English army out in a month? England put her army into Egypt in '83 and said it would take it out as soon as the danger of the Turks coming there was over, and it is still there, and you think you can fool Lloyd George into keeping a Treaty which is not even an honest agreement on either side. It is not a Treaty. The King, in his speech did not call it a Treaty but Articles of Agreement. No matter what they put down on the paper for publicity purposes that does not matter. The thing that matters is that you could not take that Treaty without betraying your Oath to the Republic. Now, one thing more I want to say is this. It has been said that we who allowed these delegates to go to London compromised. I want to go back to one thing, the President will corroborate what I say, that I worried him out with letters on the matter. I did not go on rushing into the papers because I did not want to embarrass the Government but I wrote to Mr. Arthur Griffith myself to London. I remonstrated with him on the way our delegation had allowed the press to get away with our standing before the world, and I think the delegation did not do their duty and I wrote to our representative in London, Mr. Art O'Brien. I remonstrated with him about it because I had realised that value of publicity. Mr. Griffith wrote back to me that they should have the confidence of their people no matter what the newspapers said if they were going to do any good and he would not take anything that the Irish people would not accept. I took his word for it; I did give him my confidence. He has not justified my confidence anyhow, and I ask you people to realise now what will be the confidence [recte consequence] of your action if you vote for the ratification of this Treaty. You split the country for a certainty. We cannot help it, it is not our fault. We are no more entitled to give in to you on this principle than the Irish Volunteers were to give in to Redmond in 1914, and those of you who stood on the side of the Irish Volunteers then cannot well stand on the side of the Treaty now. We cannot compromise but I ask you to vote in the name of the dead to unite against this Treaty and let us take the consequence. We are no worse off than we were a fortnight ago. We are better off, according to the Minister for Defence, than we were then when he proposed to start the fight, but not as well off as we might have [recte had we] been a little busier getting in arms, but at all events we are no worse off and we have not compromised our honour. This ratification must go to the people not yet trained out of the slavery which the last 100 years have put into these souls. As to whether the majority of the people would take it, what would the majority in 1916 have taken? Somebody quoting Pádraig Pearse said "We have lost this battle but we have saved the soul of the nation", and if you tomorrow ratify this Treaty you would have done the best you could to undo Pádraig Pearse's work and to lose the soul of the nation, for we have to face the fact that our people are only gradually coming out of the slavehood. They are only gradually coming to realise all their rights as free men and after they have had that, the first 10 or 12 years of freedom, to bring them back to the realisation of what freedom ought to be. The reason you are betraying the people who are not able to judge for themselves properly like free men is because they have been in slavery for 120 years and longer, and, therefore, it is up to you not to the country. A united Dáil against that Treaty will be a united country. You can only have a united Dáil by the rejection of the Treaty and I ask you in the name of our martyred dead to, at all events, take the risk. Do a brave thing, a noble thing. If we women who suffer most are willing to take the risk why should you men not do it? You have said that the country will not be behind you. That is a lie for every man that said it. It is a lie and I deny it in the name of the women of Ireland. Anyhow they will not turn down the men who have been fighting for them. They may be disappointed if there is not going to be peace but there is no man, woman or child in the country, the south of Ireland, who will turn down the men who fight for Ireland and it is a gross insult to the people to say so. They won't like it. It is in your hands to bring the people back to where we stood a fortnight ago. We could do it if we had a united Dáil or a large majority for it, and I beg and implore of you in the name of the dead not to split the country. You know what it will mean. It will mean that we will be going back to the old, old fights between ourselves which made us so sick at heart. It will mean the enemy triumphant and laughing and at the end you won't get even the Articles of Agreement, because Lloyd George will know that the minority who stand on principle and against the ratification of that Treaty are the people in the country who count. He will know perfectly well that it is the minority if we are a minority that made today possible. It was the minority in 1916 that made 1918 possible; it was that minority all along that made it possible to have this offer today. Turn [down] that offer in the name of God and in the name of our martyred dead. If you take that Treaty you know the position you are placing yourselves in. England's difficulty is still Ireland's opportunity. England's difficulties in Egypt and India and her financial difficulties are the cause of what you saw Churchill said, Churchill who always gives away the show on his own people. "What does it matter", he said, "our financial clauses don't matter because England will have economic control of Ireland still." What does an army of 40,000 matter? You see what they say. Why blind yourselves with the Treaty? For God's sake refuse that Treaty; reject it. Let us stand united before the country on Monday and then the country will stand behind us.
I should like to know if you could not proceed to make arrangements to adjourn this session and perhaps it would be necessary for some people to make arrangements for the public session on Monday. The speech of the Deputy from Cork could much more profitably be made in public session and if we all make speeches we are making in the public session I think it is quite useless. I think we should make arrangements to wind up the session so that we could go into public session.
If you arrange to have the public session in the Round Room the parties who are responsible for the public session, have they made any arrangements in that direction?
There were no arrangements made because the question was not decided here as to whether it was feasible or not. The question is for the Dáil to determine. My idea at the beginning was Mr. Griffith agreed I did not mind in the slightest the only point is that it was considered that it would be very much better not to have a crowd because one way or the other you won't be able to maintain strict order and if you wish to risk that then of course that is all right. I have no real strong views one way or the other.
If it was not for the very prolonged speech of the last speaker and I think before the Speaker left the chair he told us he had had 16 other names to place before us of Deputies who wished to speak now the duration of the last speech of course I have no desire to put limitation of time but I think that what the last speaker had to say could easily have been condensed into at least one half of the time and the duration of the time has certainly prevented the private members from expressing their opinions. Were it not for that I should certainly have consented to an adjournment at this moment but in the circumstances I think we will have to remain in session for another couple of hours in order to allow those other private members to speak their minds.
We agreed to have the opening session here and we agreed to have all the press here for the reason that if you could take a place like the Round Room you would have a thousand people or so. There would be a tremendous amount of work thrown on the secretaries giving out tickets and there would be charges on both sides undoubtedly of favouritism in giving out tickets. There is no doubt that this might cause partisans of both sides to commence to cheer. I believe we ought to sit here and have a public session as we had on the opening day of [recte with] the press.
I am quite in agreement with Mr. Griffith in that matter. That was the consideration that weighed with me personally and it was I who made the suggestion when we could not get the Round Room originally. I said when I heard it was engaged that this is one of these cases where it is really rather fortunate that it is not available because there would be this clapping and applause.
I propose that the meeting be held here.
I second that.
It is felt that the press it has been remarked in fact by both sides that the press is wholly in favour of the acceptance of the Treaty but if that is so those who do not wish to vote for the acceptance of the Treaty find themselves in this difficulty that they do not believe that the press will give them adequate space and I think that if you agree that the press are to come here that at least we should get a guarantee from the Irish press that unless they report the proceedings in full that they will not be allowed in.
The Director of Publicity might be able to tell us whether we could get such a guarantee.
I don't see that the Dublin newspapers could give it entirely in full if we are going on for hours but I think of course the principal speakers, that is to say the mover and seconder on each side, would be given in full unless you make some arrangements with them that they give equal space to each side. They may do that but you couldn't possibly have the whole thing in full.
I know the way that will be met, if the press is against you every good point won't appear. I raised this point and I raised it because I see English papers full of the challenge that we are afraid to come out in public, we who opposed the signing of the Treaty. Well I don't think any of us are. I would like to see it in the Round Room if it were possible to have it there but it is feared that we still have a division. Still I don't think I will have anyhow. There is none of us want a split. We want unity and I think that something could be done tonight or tomorrow for, if arrangements could have been made for some other hall than this, I thought arrangements would have been made during the day.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
Well we must get through with this list. There are 16 names on it and I wonder if we could come to any arrangement. I don't like to restrict the speakers.
I think a lot of us are in favour of the Mansion House if it could be arranged to have it in the Mansion House because there is a lot of dissatisfaction. A lot of the foreign press are let in and Irish patriots cannot get a chance.
I move that it will not be held in the Mansion House.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
The motion was that it should be held here.
The amendment is that it should be held in the Mansion House.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
Has that been seconded?
I second it.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
I will take the amendment first.
There are about 15 stallholders there. They will finish up tonight but they don't usually take away their stuff until Monday. Any party we send there to square up the place tomorrow they will have to throw the stuff all about. That is the great difficulty all their goods would be in confusion. I may say myself I am in favour if we could have it.
It is for the meeting to choose.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
It is proposed and seconded that the public session be held in the Round Room of the Mansion House. This is an amendment to the original proposition.
Is it possible to know for certain whether we could have the Mansion House?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
That the public session be held in the Round Room of the Mansion House. That is the amendment. It is lost. That the public session be held here, carried.
Will there be any chance of the suggestion of the Minister of Finance being thought of about arrangements of some kind to assist the Speaker so far as is in our position to have order on Monday and not make such an exhibition as we had on the opening day of this session? We ought to have a definite programme drawn up. The Clerks of the House with the Speaker ought immediately to come to some conclusion so that everybody should know what the Orders of the Day should be for Monday.
I suggest that this matter be adjourned for another hour and that the speakers go on.
For the second time during this discussion I wish to say something and I hope that all the members will understand that what I have to say now is something profitable. I have done my best to study this situation, the very difficult situation in which we find ourselves. Now it appears to me perfectly plain that the Treaty, which I hold to be a Treaty, that has come before us signed by the plenipotentiaries is in certain important respects I am criticising it only on one ground ultra vires, that in certain characteristics it is, I am not saying too much or too little but outside not merely the terms of reference at all but outside the entire competence of this legislature. We are in the same position at present as the independent Irish legislature was before the Union and it is held by the best and the highest authorities that that legislature could do nothing to disestablish itself which was not consistent with its own constitution. Now in the Treaty before us there are certain provisions which to my mind are undoubtedly inconsistent with our whole position and with such imposed constitution as we have at present; the Treaty makes certain arrangements with regard to national relations between the Irish Government and the Irish people. The proper business of a treaty is this: a treaty between two Governments that is I think pointed our to you already is acknowledged in its 10th article the proper business of that Treaty I don't want to raise a point of controversy at all on that; it is my construction of it; at all events it does not matter the proper business of a treaty is to regulate the relations between the country which is making the treaty and the country or countries with which it is making the treaty to regulate the international relations between these two countries and not as I hold and as I think we shall all hold to regulate the international [recte internal] affairs of one of the two countries, affairs which are properly between the Government of that country and the people of that country. Now it might be held roughly that the first I would confine your attention to the first four articles of the Treaty and especially the first two it might be held that articles that deal with international relations and that is so until we come down to words, "with a Parliament having powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Ireland and an executive responsible to that Parliament". Now it has been our position all along, and this is where we take a distinctly separate stand from, I think, the first elections in Roscommon or Longford, but in all the subsequent elections I had some part and most of you here had some part in them and you know that at every one of those elections and right on from that time up to now we held that the British legislature had no right to legislate for Ireland, that the British Government had no right to make constitutional provisions for Ireland and on that ground every single member who was elected was pledged not to go into the British Parliament because going there was a recognition of the right of Great Britain to legislate for this country. That principle has been fixed indisputably at all moments from the beginning of these elections down to the present day and in a sense it is the foundation of the position on which we stand. Now, therefore, it is impossible, it is beyond the powers of our Cabinet or of our plenipotentiaries or of ourselves to assent to any instrument or to any phrases in an instrument which we could acknowledge as vesting that power in the British Government or in any function of the British Government. It is only for Ireland itself to decide what authority has powers to make laws for peace, order and good government in Ireland and so on, things of that kind. Except for that phrase the first article in the Treaty could be held, could be well held to regulate external relations alone. The second article it would be far more difficult to put that construction on it. It speaks of the position of the Irish Free State under this constitution which is the position of the third article also. With regard to the fourth article it has been sufficiently discussed already; I don't wish to discuss it any further. These are the four articles which, to my mind, are fundamental of this Treaty. We heard a long exposition with regard to the position which Ireland would occupy under these articles, a careful exposition by Mr. Childers and many others whom I have discussed matters with and especially those who take the historically constitutional view of these things practically on the same lines as Mr. Childers. These articles would introduce into Ireland in some shape or form the authority of the British Government and the real authority of the British Crown or something of that kind. Well now, I am going to make a proposal to you with regard to these things and some people will say when I put that proposal before you that it is a contradiction and that it is not a logical one, that it is not a consistent one. I say that at all events it is not consistent with our necessary position. The proposal that I wish to bring before you is this, that when the motion for the ratification of this Treaty comes before you an amendment shall be brought before you to the following effect to add to the statement of the resolution stating the ratification the following which shall be stated in the amendment as governing principle first "that nothing in this Treaty" . Now this is a line of procedure that has been taken over and over again in the American legislature in dealing with treaties with outside countries that, if they were not satisfied with the contents of these treaties, they have dealt with them by riders, addenda added on afterwards. The first statement I would make in the amendment [to] be added to the resolution I would state these to be governing principles first, that nothing in this Treaty shall be held to refer to anything but the international relations between Ireland and the other countries and named in articles 1 and 2. Now of course it will be objected that there are things in the Treaty that are outside or inside of the international relations. My answer to that is that I don't care whether they are or not and I ask you not to care whether they are or not. Leave it to the lawyers and authorities on constitutional law and procedure to be as consistent as ever they like to be; you be as logical with regard to your position as your position calls on you to be. Your position requires you to assent to nothing in this that deals with anything except international relations and therefore you should state in this first provision that nothing in this Treaty shall be construed as dealing except with international relations between Ireland and the countries named in articles 1 and 2. Secondly, that nothing in this Treaty shall be construed I don't say that the words I am giving are the best possible words because I am only giving them to you as they have come to myself, others may word them a little better but you will get the idea clearly enough the second provision will be that nothing in this Treaty shall be construed as taking away from the natural sovereign rights of the Irish people. The third addendum that I propose that you should make would be this, that the accommodations and facilities conceded by Ireland to Great Britain in this Treaty for the purpose of defence shall not be allowed to be used in any way to the detriment of Ireland. That provision would give you the right to interfere with any movement of troops, for example, or anything of that kind that did not previously get your own approval and consent. Now I admit plainly that it will at once be claimed that those things are in a sense inconsistent with the Treaty. If they are they are only inconsistent with the Treaty in the sense in which we are bound to be inconsistent with the Treaty. Consequently I point out to you that in order to them [sic] you force the British government to state its objections to them, to show wherein they are objectionable. If they attempt to show that those provisions are contrary to the provisions of the Treaty then they will make the following claims in their behalf. First of all, claim to interfere in the international [recte internal] concerns of Ireland. They will have to make that claim otherwise they couldn't dispute this first rider which I propose you should add. Secondly in the second rider I propose that you should state that nothing in this Treaty shall contravene that natural sovereign right of the Irish people. If the British government objects to that then it objects to the natural sovereign rights of the Irish people. In the third case if the British government takes objection to the third addendum that facilities and accommodations accorded to the British government for the purpose of defence shall not be allowed to be used in any way for the detriment of Ireland if they object to that it will be because they are making a claim to use these facilities and accommodations for the detriment of Ireland and I don't think they dare make any of these claims. But suppose they do then you will have before the whole world a clear issue, a very clear issue. You will put the British government hopelessly in the wrong before the entire world and you will compel them, if they want to make war on you or use pressure of any kind on you, they will have to do it on an issue which they cannot morally. Another effect of bringing in a rider of that kind, reservations whatever you like to call it of that kind, would be this that you will make it, if not impossible, at all events ridiculous for the British government to pass a Dominion Act for the benefit of Ireland. You will make it ridiculous for them to pass any such Act. You have already divided the first of those principles. You have already denied them the right to make any internal arrangements for Ireland as between Gt. Britain and Ireland. We can make whatever international regulations the two countries please even if there are disadvantages to one of the two countries. In this arrangement are disadvantages to us, occupations of certain ports. They are not dishonourable to us. When France came to an accommodation with Germany after the Franco-German War she had to part with Alsace-Lorraine. No one ever said that that was in dishonour to France. It was a great disadvantage to France. It was not a dishonour. Her national sovereignty remained unimpaired and finally I would oppose [recte propose] this amendment to the resolution and would direct that the resolution so amended be communicated officially, whatever the proper phraseology is, to the British government that it be a communication from the Irish to the British government. Now with regard to that proposal I don't pretend that it is a proposal that will be satisfactory to everyone here. I do not ask the signatories to the existing Treaty, I would not ask them, to vote for that proposal. I would not ask those who take their stand that nothing at all should be conceded, no port, no concession whatsoever should be made. I would not ask them to vote for that proposal and I would strongly hope that they would not vote for that proposal. I would hope that, if a proposal of this kind were carried, that there would still remain the [gap in original] of people who would adopt the hard and fast position that was stated for us this morning by Mr. Etchingham. I think it would be of the greatest possible value to us in the future if there were such a nucleus. But I would ask all the others here without exception to support that proposal and not to mind in the least what Mr. Childers or Mr. Gavan Duffy might say about its constitutional aspect. This is the twentieth century and these constitutional aspects belong to the nineteenth and the eighteenth and the seventeenth centuries and if what I am putting before you is not in accordance with the constitutional practice of the past we will have just as much right to make constitutional practices as any other country has. We are told that certain things can be read constructively, that, for example, Canada, while it is subject to the British Crown and the King is King of Canada and all that, notwithstanding it is absolutely independent and so independent that it has the right of secession. These things are admitted by public men, by statesmen, that constitutional practice is growing and constitutional law is changing and I propose that we assist at the changing. I know that others will speak and will say that the proposal I am making to you is somewhat illogical. I am not here in order to ask Dáil Éireann to give a lesson in logic to anybody. I don't ask you to publish this Treaty as a treaty of national right which is more important than logic and to declare our national right in the rider or reservations or applause [recte annex] that you will put to the resolution moving the Treaty in that form. I believe if you do that you will put the whole difficulty on the other side. If you do that you will certainly prevent anything like a split in our lines of policy in this country. It is impossible that you should foreshadow a split on a policy which asserts that no other country has a right to make any but international arrangements with regard to our country and that no other country has a right to interfere with the natural sovereign rights of the Irish people and that no other country has a right to use accommodations and facilities in this country in any way to the detriment of this country. So I hope you are clear about it because I think it is a thing of the greatest importance. If I am not mistaken the constitutional lawyers are all dead against me but the practical men that Miss MacSwiney does not like, they are all on my side. With regard to the construction of the case which I put before you, if anything occurs I will be very glad to illustrate it.
It is not logic. Logic is the basis of commonsense. Now if you have a signed Treaty could you put reservations which negative the articles of it? It is quite obvious if you go for reservations without [recte about] meanings that are not quite clear and might be construed against you but if it is in the articles 2 or 3 it is obvious that the Treaty contemplates internal affairs of the British Government, the British Crown in Ireland. You see, it is so absurd from that point of view that I don't see how anybody could stand for it. What I feel is that in article 2 you say we have certain powers in Ireland, then you try to head off. It [recte if] there were a question suppose by the associated states you mean so and so is the case and I cannot see how you can put something that is absolutely contradictory to the text of the Treaty in a reservation.
Mr. Speaker, this is a discussion on the Treaty. I have said that I was not a constitutional lawyer, I stand on fact. If we were to discuss the Treaty here I could give every argument that Mr. MacNeill has given, I could show how we could work that out to our advantage. I want to give the interpretation of a man who has faith in Irish aspirations and who means to go before the Irish people of the Free State making our own precedents not occupying [recte accepting] precedents of Canada, not accepting the constitutional usage in Canada or any other place because all these things have advanced in the history of these nations and we have done a thing here under this Treaty I only want to put this publicly because I want to publish it before men of the world who understand these things we have done a thing here that has never been done in history. It is no longer the British Empire, it is the community of nations known as the British Empire. The British Empire stood always for domination. The claim is abandoned by Britain; in this Treaty it abandons this domination over Ireland. I want to go into all this not here but in the public session. I want to put it forward on that basis. I want to tear up Document No. 2 on that basis or any other document and I want to show how we can work up our nationhood and freedom, but I do not, as I have said, want to enter into any argument on the Treaty here because we have decided that the Treaty be discussed in public. I have been at a disadvantage all the time until we go into public session. I want to appeal from the members of the Dáil to the general public which does understand these things in the plain Irish way that I understand them myself.
On a point of order. You asked that Whips would be appointed to assist the business of the House. The Whips have agreed to certain speakers and it has been carried out. The Whips will do no more.
As I think everybody should have a chance of expressing their views I will try to condense into ten minutes a reply to a speech which took an hour and a half and in doing so there will be no [gap in original] about it. The Deputy from Cork, Miss MacSwiney, told us that if this Treaty is confirmed, I mean ratified, that the country will be split. I say emphatically if you do not ratify it the country will be split indefinitely worse. We all know that.
No we don't.
Whether it is for good or evil the country does want this Treaty. The issue is right or wrong according to Miss MacSwiney. I agree absolutely and it is a matter for her conscience and every other delegate has his conscience and I do not think it right for any delegation on their conscience [sic]. Now on the question of the Treaty we are tackled on the question of principle and we are told a lot about this Oath. Well on the question of principle I must say that I was rather surprised at the delegate who was telling us how to act in accordance with principle for she told us that the man who had taken one oath first should break it in favour of another that he should break later.
I never said such a thing.
I don't see how that matter was exactly brought in. The question of the men who had taken an oath to the I.R.B., the man who had taken the oath to the Dáil was brought in and we were told that a man who had taken an oath to the I.R.B. would have to break that oath in favour of the Oath. We were told that this was a Dominion oath that will be taken. The Dominion oath is this, "I swear to bear true faith and allegiance to His Majesty King George, his heirs and successors," faith and allegiance. The Oath in this Treaty is an absolutely unique one. You have got no oath like it anywhere and I tell you, instead of the delegates we sent over being befogged by the Welsh Wizard, that they befogged the Welsh Wizard in a way that he was never befogged before. The plain rank and file man like myself is impressed with this, I think, that there is no doubt in any of our minds that the issue is ratification of the Treaty or war. When I find the combined brains of the members of the delegation Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Eamonn Duggan, Robert Barton and Gavan Duffy when we find their combined brains bringing us home this, when I find these combined brains coupled with the spirit of men like Commdt. McKeon, Gearóid O'Sullivan and the numerous survivors of Easter Week that are here, I must certainly say it seems good enough for me in any case. We are appealed to in the name of the dead. I would like to lay great stress on the fact that it is only by the merest coincidence that a great number of members that are here present are alive. They fought for the same principle as the men who died and anyone who would suggest to me that they would be false, well I must say that I cannot understand that person's mind. On the question of documents I would go into documents or read many documents because I will keep my promise and be very brief but the Deputy from Cork says that every line that the President wrote was absolutely clear and that it left the issue absolutely straight and that the issue was all the time a Republic. Well I will just read two expressions from the correspondence. One is No. 10 in the correspondence, the letter telegraphed by the President de Valera to the British Prime Minister, Sept. 16th, second paragraph: "Throughout the correspondence that has taken place you have defined your Government's position. We have defined ours. If the positions were not so definitely opposed there would indeed be no problem to discuss." The President defined our position according to the Deputy from Cork as a Republican position. Well, these two lines I certainly cannot understand. I don't claim to have very much intelligence but I cannot understand if the position were so clear why the delegates went over at all and why there was a conference at all. The other extract I will read is one from Lloyd George. It is 15 in the correspondence, September 29th. The letter telegraphed by the British Prime Minister to the President and down in the middle you will see: "On this point they must guard themselves against any possible doubt. There is no purpose to be served by any further interchange of explanatory and argumentative communications upon this subject. The position taken up by His Majesty's Government is fundamental to the existence of the British Empire and they cannot alter it." Well as I said I won't go through the correspondence. Without going through the correspondence you will find the position of the British Empire defined so that Ireland must be an essential part of the British Empire and that the question of allegiance was essential and I say, so far from our delegates being befogged, that they absolutely made Lloyd George, the Welsh Wizard, eat his own words in the most ignominious fashion. We all have a duty to our constituents and I must say that I don't understand the attitude taken up by the Minister for Defence when he thought we absolutely should not know something about arguments but at any rate it is all right and I dare say he has good reasons for adopting that attitude but I must say I have been fairly well through the country myself and I suffer from no hallucinations at all as to what intensive warfare will mean. It is ridiculous to suggest that if the war is resumed again that England cannot do things that she never did before. For instance she can arrest, at sight, every man between fifteen and fifty, let out the ones who swear allegiance. She could without firing a shot adopt another attitude. I must say that, having heard the expressions of the military men, that I cannot see what we have in this Treaty to my mind got very nearly all that was ever dreamed of; we have got the power to have an army, got the enemy banished out of the country, except for the retention of one or two forts which would be retained under Document No. 2. If we got that I certainly say that we would not be justified in plunging the country into war. I think I have kept my promise. I have tried to be as brief as I could because I think everybody should get an opportunity to discuss this.
A Chinn Chomhairle, it has been said that every one of us belonging to this Assembly had given away something when we agreed for these plenipotentiaries to go across to England. I flatly deny that I gave anything away in agreeing to it. I did not speak because I did not feel quite sure in my mind about their going but when I heard the names of the men selected for it they were the men I had learned to have respect for and confidence in, and I believed they would not give anything away any more than I would. I felt safe in keeping my tongue and particularly when the President made the remark such as this, "We must have scapegoats".
What I felt about these men was how could they allow themselves to be made scapegoats of. I remember that the President
I hope it won't be taken in reference to the position that I was taking in refusing to go over. "Unflinchingly behind" has been used. It was obvious that I was contemplating a possible break in the country and I wanted the country to be behind the delegates in breaking.
I understand that if these men went over and came to an agreement with the British Government feeling that it was the best thing to do, that they would be rather in the position of scapegoats if the Dáil threw it out after they came back.
I forget what particular idea was in my mind at the time. My idea was that we wanted to be in a strong position and that the Republic would not be injured.
The main thing that I want to make clear is that I did not give anything away in agreeing to their going over and I did not mean to give it away. What I have to say against the Treaty I will say in the public session. I deny and flatly contradict anyone who dares to say that I gave anything away in agreeing to these plenipotentiaries going to England.
There has been so much speaking over this extraordinary question that the only thing I have to say on it is from the military point of view. If I thought that this Treaty which was being signed was to bar our right to freedom, if it was to be the finality, I wouldn't touch it but I took it that it is to be a jumping off point to attain our alternative ends, because if it is in one year or in ten years, Ireland will regain that freedom which is her destiny and no man can bar it. The only thing is that at the present moment if there was anything like a split it would be more dangerous than anything else. As for our principle we are all pledged to that principle which is to place Ireland in her place amongst the nations of the earth. Some may differ in the plan but I always think, always did think, that we are too many patriots and not enough of Cromwells. Posterity will judge us all yet. There is no getting away from that. When the time comes there is one thing certain. Speaking from the column which I was always with through the battlefields and willing and ready to carry on the fight but still I look upon that Treaty as the best rock from which to jump off for the final accomplishment of the Irish freedom. There is no doubt but speaking in these momentous times because it takes men of iron will to stand up against that question of principle because he would be apt to be misjudged. He might be called a coward. There is no cowardice in it but there is real commonsense in the South. When we were footsore and weary and hungry the people did stand to us and I proclaim it from here there are some in a position today that they are next door to the poor house if the poor house was there but it is not. The only thing that I would like to be understood in is that any kind of disunion would have a terrible effect. As for the people on the whole they are for this Treaty and I don't care what sense they are for it because some vote for any peace. There is no doubt about that; I wouldn't consider it in the case of principle but as a matter of expediency for us. There is hardly one of us here could realise what it is to have that army of occupation gone because in a short time with the building up of the youth of the country, the training of their minds and the training of them as soldiers and the equipping, that the day will soon be at hand when you could place Ireland to my mind in her rightful place amongst the nations of the earth. The feeling in the South amongst the ordinary people is surely for the Treaty, even the best of them were tired and war worn out. There is no getting away from it but still if they are called upon again they will give their help to the soldiers of Ireland. They gave what they had and they will give what is remaining but I consider and I have weighed it up and watched the whole proceedings. I don't speak with animosity to any man but I speak as a soldier because it is the soldiers who will win this fight, it is not the politicians. My friend here on the left has said, "Wily England was always met by [too] much honour and too much principle", and the only way to meet England is after her own game and at the present moment her empire is tottering perhaps. A great man has said, Mitchel, "If I could control the fires of hell I would hurl them against the enemies of my country". We had a great precedent about keeping treaties with England. That morning on the banks of the Shannon when Sarsfield under duress signed that treaty with the English King, foolishly enough, when the assistance of France in ships and men sailed up that Shannon, he honourably kept his word and they honourably broke it. Well, the day is coming when we will pay that back. The only thing is if there is any man well beloved in the South it is the President and it would be very painful for me to think that in any way I should differ from him. There is no fear that the soul of Ireland will die. Ireland's destiny is to be a Republic and the man who gets the closest and soonest to that in the best way is the man.
I don't want to speak to-night. I will speak on Monday.
Just before I get on to what I have to say there are a few things that the Deputy here from Cork has stated. She stated that you will find no woman who has suffered who would think of accepting this Treaty or something similar. Well, the wife of Christy McCarthy who was killed in action a few weeks before the Truce spoke to me and asked me for God's sake to vote for the Treaty and not plunge the country into war again. She stated also that the people would be behind us in the new fight but they would not be behind with the same heart as they showed in the last fight. Miss MacSwiney said again that England would easily overcome an Irish army of 40,000 men. How much more easily could she overcome an army of I don't know exactly. Somebody referred to Commandant Seán McKeon as having sounded a note of surrender. Now, supposing you don't ratify this Treaty you can take it that the army, if you want it, will fight again. It is not a note of surrender he sounded. Every commandant is at liberty to sound a note of warning when he sees the dangers and when people who have not been in action don't know what they are but will insist on plunging us into war. Deputy Robinson of Tipperary spoke of the army yesterday or the day before and he said that principle was before discipline. I think that discredits his claim to speak for any army. Discipline is first in any army, not principle. Now I am going to vote for the Treaty and I will tell you why. If this Treaty is rejected the country is plunged into disunion at once. England may not declare [war], she may let us beat ourselves but the probability is that there will be war because you could have seen if you had been minding things that even if this Truce had continued there would be war very soon. Policemen would be shot here and there and they would have satisfaction and gradually the fight would start. If the Treaty is rejected it is obvious that these things would become worse. Therefore we are going to have war. The people want the Treaty and without the people the army couldn't carry on because they were the commissariat and the transport and they gave a protection, and they were most of all Intelligence Department for every one eye the enemy had [we had] a couple of thousand; that was the way we beat them not with a few rifles and ammunition but with the Intelligence Department, the farmers and labourers, the men of the country. That is how we beat the enemy. We won't have that I hold if we go back to war and why? Because in the minds of the people the Treaty is a good thing, they are out for accepting it. But [if] we go back to war they won't allow us to have that. If there are a few scraps which are not successful the people will say why didn't they accept what they were getting. It is absolutely certain we will lose the support of the civilian population after a few months if we go back to war.
I think I may say a few words now.
I am afraid we must take the next name on the list.
Today I have listened to the speeches of military men. They say well there is one thing that some of them have and that is discipline. They brought forward the same two arguments in different forms. The two arguments are, "We are a fine body of men. If we only had ". The second argument was, "War is inevitable; anyhow they are disciplined; they have learned their lesson".
As I was the one that was primarily responsible for the Dáil having its first meeting in private and if necessary and if the Dáil thought well of it, other private meetings, I think it may be necessary for me to give a few reasons why I thought it. I submit with all due respect that the people in Ireland are in the position that the members of the Dáil were in prior to last Wednesday, that is to say the members of the Dáil knew absolutely nothing of what was taking place. Now I know that President de Valera and the members of the Cabinet did not enter into negotiations. Well, I don't see when all is ended how the negotiations could have otherwise been conducted. Another point too is, as I say, previous to Wednesday I was absolutely ignorant of the conditions of this Treaty and I for one will always refuse to vote for or against a motion until I thoroughly understand as a plain blunt Irishman the gist of what I am going to vote for. Furthermore I think it is a desirable thing for the government of any nation before legislating if you like for the nation to have a chance of meeting together and discussing the various points. Now, I want to say one word. Allow me as a rank and filer of the Dáil to congratulate the members of the Dáil generally speaking on the decorous manner in which they have conducted this discussion and I only hope and trust in God that whatever the future may have in store for us and whatever future meetings we may have that they will be conducted in the same orderly and friendly manner. We are all Irishmen; we are all members of the Irish delegation and I don't claim to be one versed in technical language. I am, from the moment I took a part in this movement, merely trying to do what I could for my country. Now, the other afternoon Dr. MacCartan made a certain suggestion and I hope to God in the interests of unity that the members of the Cabinet will see their way perhaps to come to some understanding because if the Cabinet remains disunited the dangers or the sufferings of the country are too terrible to contemplate. My speech or my attempt to talk may be rather scrappy but it is as good as I can be and I simply do it as a plain rank and filer of the Dáil. There has been a lot of discussion about our plenipotentiaries who went to London. Now these plenipotentiaries were not cooing doves and they knew perfectly well that they were not going into a nest of cooing birds. They were going into a nest of serpents. When I was a medical student I read in my text books how to operate on tonsils and how to apply a splint but when I came down to practical relations and tried these things I am sorry to say in the beginning I found it a very difficult proposition and I found a hundred difficulties confronting me. These men were specially picked, specially chosen, every one of them suffered for their country. Do you think that those men are not going to do their utmost for their country, that these men have not had, to use a simile, their fingers on the pulse of England? And they knew exactly how far they could go, and I will make this statement that England, before she will let Ireland go ultimately, that she will expend the last farthing and the last man before she allows you to disappear from the grip. England, I believe personally, would sooner let Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, Canada and the rest of the possessions pass from her before she would finally allow Ireland to go from her grip. Now I submit that, with all due respect, that there is certainly something, in my mind anyway, very rotten in the state of England that she should go so far as she has gone. I respectfully admit that in this Treaty we practically possess all we can possess in what we like to call a Republic if you wish...The Oath, I suggest, in this Treaty is the oath of the Free State of Ireland. So far as that is concerned I am very easy in my mind. The people of Ireland are taking that Oath under duress and I, as a representative, have consulted as many as I could of my people before I came to Dublin and they were in favour of my voting for this Treaty. I will do as they suggest. Now there was a question raised about the Governor General. The Governor General, before he was elected, must be ratified, I understand, by both Houses. Now both Houses might refuse ever to have a Governor General on a point of salary. They said that they hadn't got the money to pay them and they accordingly kicked him out. Perhaps we may have some opportunity likewise of disposing of this person if he ever appears on the horizon. I understand that the total number of enemies that will man certain specified spots in Ireland will total altogether about 14,000 [recte 1,400] men. These men will be there to look after guns and give them the necessary attention, and what we could do later on as regards 1,400 men will be very apparent to any member of this Assembly. The next point is strained relations. It is mentioned in this Treaty, I understand, if strained relations do exist that means that England can send her fleets in any of these places by declaring strained relations with any power and strained relations will be tantamount to a mobilisation. If mobilisation means anything it means that the vessels would have to mobilise in England and furthermore under this Treaty we would have a representative on the League of Nations. I fancy that if England does anything like that that we will be disposed of at the League of Nations. Now this Treaty has by some been called a shadow. I respectfully submit that it contains 99 per cent of the substance and I further say that the shadow of England has disappeared practically to the minimum and I for one as a plain Irishman fail to see what more we could do from an economic point of view and for the development of the country under a Republic than we could do under this measure of the Treaty. Now, the army of the Republic and God bless the members of the army of the Republic who had the moral courage to come here today and express their views they have proved their bravery on the field of battle. Under the terms of the Treaty I understand that you will have about 30,000 or 40,000 men here in Ireland fully equipped and fully trained. That will be a matter for the Government. Like my friend Michael Collins I am a plain blunt Irishman unused to technical terms and used [recte unused] to words like "instrument" and "in accordance with the British constitution" and the rest of it. I am here as a simple country practitioner endeavouring to do the best he can for his country and I understand that under the provisions of the Treaty Ulster will have to pay to the English Exchequer about 8 millions per annum. I have for the past year and a half presided at the Boycott Committee to boycott Belfast and beg to say, working in communion with the rest of the Irish committees throughout Ireland, that Belfast is beginning to feel the pinch. I don't know whether we can, under this Treaty, legislate against Belfast. If we can then that would help to knock out Belfast very quickly. In any case we can, if it were possible, accentuate and make the boycott against Belfast more tight and you may take it for granted that the men of Belfast are not fools and even now at the present moment I personally am of opinion I may be wrong I personally am of opinion that Belfast would come into Ireland very very quickly. Ulster is in a vice and she knows it and her businessmen are not fools. Now, I say this with all due respect, it may have been possible that Wolfe Tone and maybe some of the '46 and '67 men may have said, "If we do not attain Irish independence in this generation we will attain it in the next". They may have said that. Now, these men were heroes, great national heroes and patriots. They went out and did their best and I thoroughly agree with the Speaker, "I will be a compromiser and an opportunist", but if you give me a rock from which I can spring off at England's throat I will vote for it and I will stand by it and I will vote for and stand by the Treaty on that account. Now, before coming up here I asked men who had worked with me in my place, "What is your opinion as regards this Treaty?" And they gave me their opinion so far as they could make it out that the Treaty should be voted for. "Vox populi vox Dei est." It is the voice of the people and as our President said, I think, subject to correction, he mentioned that if this question were put to the country tomorrow he would have the country, I think, voting for its ratification. I am satisfied on that point and if the voice of the people is the voice of God then I say we should certainly do as the people desire us. We, unfortunately, are not in the position of three men whom we all love and respect, differing on this terrible, this vital question. I submit that the work for Ireland is only now beginning and it is now more than ever we want these men, and I ask them in the name of God, in the name of Ireland and in the name of humanity, to come together and try and work out some proposition that will not split the country. As I say, the consequences are too awful to contemplate and we would be playing into the enemies' hands. Disunion, unhappily, was the curse of Ireland and surely to God Tantalus's cup is not now once again to be dashed from the lips of Dark Rosaleen. Surely to God the men that we all love and cherish, the men who have suffered, aye, and the women who have suffered, surely to God these men are not now going to stab the dagger of disunion to the heart of Dark Rosaleen. In the name of God and in the name of Ireland and in the name of humanity I ask these men as a humble member of the Dáil for all they hold near and dear to come together and see if we cannot form up the thin green line against the scarlet hordes of the invader.
As it is now past ten o'clock the Whips have agreed that there be only two more speakers.
There is a little for me to say. As one who has made up his mind about the Treaty and who has since he came up to this meeting heard nothing that would make him change his views, I would like to say a few words. Most of the soldier members of the Dáil who have spoken at all have been more or less favourable to the Treaty. Now the Minister of Finance and the delegation need no justification in my eyes. There is no necessity for saving their faces and I think, and I have been thinking all the time for the past few days, that what really is before the House is the question of ratification or non-ratification of the Treaty. There has been a whole lot of talk about it and none directly to the point. Now I will vote against this Treaty. If the Dáil ratifies it I would like to make it perfectly clear until the new Government comes into power I as a soldier can speak for my brigade area will stand for the existing Government. If the Treaty is not to be ratified and there is to be war I take it that the Minister of Defence will be in his place. While I vote against the Treaty I know that that war is real war. Some member today said that we did not know what real war was. He mentioned on a point of fact Balbriggan as proof that there was no war in Ireland. I also heard of a place called Lunriain [sic], and the people who have spoken about it were only using it as propaganda and the effect that there was no real war on. I know down in our area there was real war on. There has been a whole lot talked about the terror of war. The question is not a question of peace or war for me. It is a question of right or wrong. Now, war is bad enough God knows, but a lot of the soldier Deputies have been putting it up to you in a worse light than it really is. I wonder now I realise my duty to the Government both as a member of this Dáil and as a soldier and I have heard a very peculiar statement. I am not going to tell you what arms I have. There was a question of honour raised here yesterday. Deputy Seán MacEntee said did he take it that the Truce was meant to be used as a chance of the reorganising our army, of getting them into a better fighting position; somebody questioned the honour of the attitude. Was it any less honourable for us to shift our ground and try to be prepared better the next time? I hold that the true pacifist was the man who prepared for this war. I came here out of Spike to your meeting last August, and I went home fully believing that the Truce was not going to bring us a Republic by negotiation; I couldn't see it; I am only a country working man. I did not see that we were going to be put into a position to work for the Republic and my duty was to go down to Cork to my own brigade area to try and equip my men and be ready for the war. Whoever has spoken for the men or women of the Dáil for sending delegates to London, I am not responsible for them anyway; I am responsible simply as a soldier. Like the Minister for Finance I am a plain man and I don't know anything about formulas and forms of words, but even if I did I would vote against this Treaty. I would put it up seriously to the men who are voting against the Treaty are they doing the right thing now or if they did the right thing last August. Have the men who are going to vote against this Treaty started their preparations for war? But the men who will vote for the non-ratification of this Treaty, it will be their duty to accept responsibility for the war. It will be their duty to fight in the war. It will be their duty also to give a lead in the war now on tomorrow. When the war breaks out is not the time for these men to make preparations. If they saw it as clearly as I, in my own tinpot way, saw it, that this war was to come, if they saw as a lot of them tell us they saw it as there was no chance of a Republic, did they try to make a fight for a Republic? Will each Deputy who is going to vote against it let him put that question to himself before he will cast his vote. I say I came here to vote against the Treaty as I am going to vote against it let him put that question to himself before he will cast his vote. I say I came here to vote against the Treaty. But I have seen nothing and heard nothing since that would change my views on it. The Minister of Finance said he has a fine pronouncement to make. If he has anything to persuade me to it I am open to conviction. I was not idle since I came out of jail. I am ready for war in my brigade area. I have mapped out my course. I know what I am going to do. There has been a question asked here today by several members, "What will the civil population think of it?" I can speak for the people in North Cork they won't let me down. There is another point and I am not in a [gap in original] of war. It is this. In one brigade we were told there were... revolvers. In my brigade it was a kick of a hurley that was our first revolver. The President knows what I think of him and what every member of the Dáil thinks of him. The Minister of Finance, the man who made the army, knows what I think of him too. Is there any way out of it by which we could reunite them?
here made a statement in reply to the last speaker as to how the army stood.
I am not going to make a speech. However, before I commence what I have to say I want to make a little personal explanation. It was stated to me that I said something at the first meeting of the Dáil that I should not have said, something that might be regarded as disrespectful to the President. I don't remember it and I didn't intend it and I apologise for it now. At the outset I may say that I am going to vote for the ratification of this Treaty, the reasons I will give for voting for this I will give at the public session. I am not going to give reasons here because I objected at the beginning to the ratification being discussed in private. I have still the same objection. There are just two things I want to say. There has been a lot of talk here in the Dáil about the people who object to the Oath [and who] put forward an alternative document, clause 6 of which says, "That for the purposes of the Association Ireland shall recognise His Britannic Majesty as Head of the Association." Now I don't care whether I give my oath or my word and I hope and trust that every member of the Dáil believes that his word is as good as his oath. Now somebody here used the word that they were gambling on the fact that there would not be war if this thing were not ratified. I am willing to gamble on the last shilling; I am willing to gamble my own life but I am not willing to gamble with the lives of other people. Now, I was accused today by somebody [of] lobbying outside or betraying the men with whom I have worked and who are dead. I was told I was a renegade; I was also told they would turn in their graves if they knew I was going to vote for this Treaty. I don't believe it. I think there are very few in this Dáil in as good a position to know the minds of the men who helped to create this Assembly, whom I worked with for years, to say what they would think of it. I was told today that we went out in Easter Week to fight for an Irish Republic; we went out in the name of the Irish Republic; with no hope of getting an Irish Republic; we went out to make a protest and every one of us who went out who wasn't a fool never expected to come back; some of us came back; some of us didn't, I am very sorry to say. But every man that went out went to make a protest because it was felt that the protest was necessary. But I say here and now we would not have waited for 1916 to fight for a Republic if the British army had evacuated the country and then we would not have gone out without hope of a Republic in 1916 if the British army was not in occupation (cheers).
MR. SEÁN [recte SÉUMAS] MAC GEARAILT
On his name being called by the Speaker, he said: Well, honestly, Mr. Speaker, I thought I was off the list (laughter).
I will not be disciplined in the Dáil but I will be disciplined outside the Dáil behind Cathal Brugha. Before I did say I am ready to expect [recie accept] the discipline of the army outside and I will do what I can for the fighting cause. It is not perhaps light work; unfortunately I suffer from heart disease but I have not the form of heart disease I have seen in this room today. I was ashamed. I have listened to men whom I thought would rank amongst the legendary heroes of Ireland; I wish to think so still. I think of course their talking is not consistent with the honour of the past. I say that no state born in dishonour can leave an [recte live in] honour. I have heard tonight men speak of what can be done under a new set of circumstances. We should have Ireland filled with the arms ready to gobble up England. Now, I hold if every spade were a rifle and every rolling pin a hand grenade and every sucking bottle an egg and if we lost our honour and lost our position before the world then England could blow us to pieces. Now I said I was going to make a suggestion, it would be a breach of discipline outside. If it could be proved the army can no longer fight there is one more honourable course open to them than the course some of them propose to take. Why not surrender? Why not surrender every gun and every man? It is not a more dishonourable course to surrender their bodies and their arms than to surrender the Republic which they were constituted to defend. And I say that even in that event we can still beat England so long as there is one Terence MacSwiney to die in a cell and so long as that man represents the soul of the nation of Ireland. Ireland is not beaten and Ireland will win. They are going to propose to the people of Ireland on Monday and every word they say will rise in judgment against them if they defend it on its merits. Let them in stating this imperial document, since they must bring it, let them bring it on the point of a British bayonet.
That's the sort of stuff now. What we will say in making our case will be all that will be necessary. Particularly from the last Deputy I don't want to hear anything particularly from the last Deputy.
I want an explanation of it.
You have no right to make a statement about any one of the delegates. I don't want to hear anything from any Deputy who made such a statement; you were the only Deputy who made such a statement.
As there are Deputies who have not spoken why not a session be held for an hour or two tomorrow?
MR. SEÁN [recte SÉUMAS] MAC GEARAILT
I will try to be brief. First I am going to vote against the ratification of this Treaty. I was elected here by the people who gave me a mandate to secure a Republic in plain common words. I don't believe that it is within my power to go outside of the exercise of the mandate unless they on their part wish to withdraw from me the mandate and then they can do as they please themselves. Now, a word or two about the men with whom I am in contact. In my own special area it was rather a singular thing that those men who are officers in command of the Volunteers had taken up a very strange attitude last year. There was an oath of allegiance to be administered to all Volunteers. These men had taken up what might seem to you a strange attitude when they didn't take the oath. They feared the Dáil might change and they wanted to keep themselves straight. These men could not possibly accept the Treaty for very many reasons. They are a small battalion, not a small brigade or division. I am a member of one company of it. I am proud to say Deputies here are opposing this Treaty in the firm belief that it would cause a split if they were to vote for the Treaty. I feel very sorry that I will have to go back and tell those men that are prepared so long to stand by their rights and honour that a tremendous effort was not made for possible unity within our ranks. I am against the Treaty for two prime reasons. First of all it does not compare from the point of view that it compromises me in very many ways with the draft of the Treaty as made out in the President's document. In the first place it contains the two words, "in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain". Perhaps there might be some statement from the House explaining "common citizenship". I prefer the President's term even if I expect to take the very reciprocal citizenship I will be in the very same position as the British government supposes me to be at present. "British citizenship" that I will never be now practically under the words of the Treaty if it were adopted [sic]. And I wish to draw your attention once more to what has been said by others that the English forces are not being taken out of this country. I know if this Treaty is passed I will see them every morning and night. I happen to live in Cobh. In the morning I will see the British battleships moored to the moorings. Camden and Carlisle Fort will be manned with marines some appreciable proportion of the thousand odd officers and men that Lloyd George specified in the House of Commons. Now what sort of influence is that going to have upon the district around Cork harbour? It has been said on the ratification side that the Governor General that has to be set up in Ireland will extend a certain amount of patronage. Therefore we will not only have one stronghold of Britain in Ulster but one in Dublin and also one in Cobh. You must if necessary have some individual there who will take control in and going out of British naval ships. He will also exercise the same influence that the Governor General will exercise in Dublin. The difference is this between the two treaties that I would not care if I knew that I would only see the men for 5, 10 or 20 years, and [as] for the draft of the Treaty as far as I know Lloyd George has proved himself to be a trickster. I know very well that the condition of affairs will last for ever and that is a thing that the men who count down in our area could not countenance.
The draft Treaty in all probability the delegates thought would be accepted unanimously by the Dáil. Now I knew there were certain contingencies that would arise. If we were to get complete control of Ireland I would not be in favour of Haulbowline being retained as a British dockyard. I know what the meaning of such a dockyard would be, and I wished to see the end of it. They came back and they accepted as to Ulster this Treaty. British ships of var will come up and go out and they will enjoy all the advantages of the finest harbour in the world, therefore why could you not get some repayments for the people of the district? Why not accept the government dockyards established there and I was not prepared to say that a government dockyard would be established in Cobh.
The Republican district of Cobh sent a deputation over to Westminster to keep them there.
The Minister of Local Government knows I was out of Cobh for practically 18 months.
I want at the start to say and to have you understand that I am very strongly in favour of this Treaty. On the very first day the President said that the ratification of the Treaty by the Dáil was ultra vires. Well now since that time he has harped and harped upon ratification of the Treaty. He has used the word time and again.
I was going to ask Mr. Griffith the terms of his resolution. I hold it cannot be ratified and if I used the word it was used as common speech.
He said it was only in the power of the Dáil to recommend it to the country.
There are two things it may do. It can itself approve or disapprove of it. It could also recommend it to the country or not recommend it.
I understand you to say that the only thing within the power of the Dáil is to recommend it to the country. I also wanted to know, if it was in the power of the Dáil to recommend it, had they the power to reject it. It has been put up here in the Dáil to prevent a split that those who stand for the Treaty should come over. Now I hold it is not the people who stand for the Treaty who are going to be responsible for the split. I hold it is the people who go out from this Assembly to the country who will cause a split. Now I will give you my reasons briefly. I will give you my reasons briefly for standing for the Treaty. I stand for it inasmuch as it gives this country an army in the first instance. I am not a great soldier and I am not going to boast about my heroism. I cannot boast about any heroism because when the real war came on I was unanimously [sic] captured and I spent my time in jail nice and safe when other men were fighting. But I did my best. I stand for the Treaty because it gives this country control over education. It gives it an opportunity of building up the Gaelic state as was referred to by somebody yesterday. It gives the country control over its own finances; something that we have been hearing a lot about for many years past as the be-all and the end-all of Irish aspirations. It gets finally the British army out of Ireland and even though my friend Deputy Etchingham says that it only exchanges the khaki man for the marines we have got both the marines and khaki men here now. (Deputy: And the Black and Tans). And this document put up by the President provides for the marines just as the Treaty does.
Only for five years.
This Treaty we have been told over and over in the House is a compromise. It is a compromise and so is that of the President. The difference is just a matter of degree. This compromise Document No. 2 leads you nowhere but into war. The other compromise delivers some kind of goods. I stand for the compromise that brings us back to war [sic]. The man who compromises to lead you nowhere is no good to me. If it is a choice of compromise I will have the compromise that leads me somewhere and that gives me some hold over the country. Now there has been a good deal of bandying of words and casting aspersions from one side of the House to the other as to the abandonment of principle and whoever was responsible. I say it was the President that suggested that oath. It was not the plenipotentiaries.
I did not suggest that oath. It was only a question of amendment.
At any rate you accept the fact that it was necessary for some form of oath if you have external association. Well the compromise did not start there and in spite of Deputy Miss MacSwiney and in spite of her challenge I really did not mind because in the ordinary way I took it as a challenge which you hear from a rhetorical orator. I therefore say that the abandonment of principle was when the delegation was sent over there either on the first day when we sent them over to consider how best the association of nations and so on can be reconciled with Irish national aspirations. I as one plain man of the Dáil assumed that that meant compromise and I approve of it as the only way out under the circumstances and if that is opportunism then I am an opportunist, and if it is expediency then I stand for expediency. But I choose to consider it as a realisation of facts and I think it would be a very good thing for the members of the Dáil if they faced facts as they heard them here today from those who know them. Therefore, I hold that on neither side is there a monopoly of principle. Now I do not want to dwell on the President's document. It is practically withdrawn. But if you are going to lead the country back to war on the difference between that document and the Treaty I know what the Irish people would think of you. Well I know them. I know the feeling of my constituents and the feeling of the people who sent me here. I have had it by wire every day since this thing started. I know what they would think of me if I carried them back to war as against that Treaty which we have got which is signed by the plenipotentiaries. Now I have said that I am no hero, but if we have to go back to war I will guarantee I will take my stand as well as any man on the opposite side. I do not think there is one of them can challenge that. But going back to war to die yourself is one thing and leading back those whom you represent is another thing, sacrificing the lives and property of 16,000 or 17,000 people whom I hold that I represent. And that is quite another proposition and I in consequence of the knowledge of facts as we heard them here today could not do it, and with a knowledge of the facts of the conditions of the brigade in the constituency that I represent could not do it. Now there was another thing; I know what people will think about if we reject that Treaty. They will look on us as rather good, decent fellows. Alright, it up to a certain stage brought about the situation very gallantly by a very gallant fight but you did not know that you had brought about the situation that you actually had brought about. That is what the people will think and there was another thing, a point made by the member for Monaghan Deputy Seán MacEntee that he was against this Treaty because of the possibly implored [sic] partition. I find the President in his document has identically the same clause with a preamble but identically the same in substance. I am sorry the Deputy for Monaghan has now left the room. I was wondering whether he supported this Document No. 2 as against the Treaty, because he said that he stood out merely against this Treaty, that he had always stood on the question of unity. I find the same thing in the two documents; I find again in the two documents this thing that has been raised by Deputy MacGearailt mooring buoys and the rest of it and they are still in Document No. 2.
And how are you going to get rid of them then?
Just as easy as now.
I would like to say that here today two or three times the name of Pádraig Pearse was mentioned and in a dishonourable way. That was that he would accept that Treaty; neither will I. In the first place, with both my sons against it I would not accept it. Since 1916, with the exception of the visits of the Black and Tans I had comfortable night's rest, but if I signed that Treaty or accepted it I assure you I would not have any night's rest, for I would be haunted by the ghosts of my sons. I hope in God that I will see that while I see here tonight several men who are going wrong that they will come right and will do what Pádraig Pearse would have done. Let them go back to O'Donovan Rossa's grave and listen to him there, and for one moment do they think that the man who spoke as he did at O'Donovan Rossa's grave would accept that Treaty? No, nor neither would his brother or his mother. I have several letters from people who sent me here reminding me of my duty. There was no necessity to remind me of it. They should know me. They pointed out to me how they elected me and what they elected me for to do my duty, and I mean to.
I am sorry that we have not a more complete House because the whole object for which I put this paper before you has evidently been lost sight of that you might make such amendments as you think fit which would enable you as a body, if you were so disposed, to reject the Treaty and immediately after make that united offer to the British Government. I have amended it myself. I have cut out the last clauses myself because I think that it is very much better that we should make this question and that we should simply say as regards Ulster that we offer to meet them and so on. Now the most unfair things have been said about that document. That is a Republican document that is as true to the Republic, every line of it, as any document that I wrote to Lloyd George, and I defy anybody to show anything in it inconsistent with the statements put forward by the head of the existing Government. It is a proposition that might be made by France to Britain, or by the United States to Britain. There is not a line in it that is not consistent with the Republic. What it states is that the Republic is willing to make for certain reasons a treaty of association with an outside power. I say there is all [the] difference in the world between the existing document and for one I would be willing to break on that document, and if you had imagination to see it you would, tomorrow, reject that Treaty and accept the other. There is a gamble. We have all tried to look into the future as well as we can. When I asked you to give your sanction to paragraph 2 somebody said I was a compromise [sic] by putting in this paragraph. I said Lloyd George wants to make war on us; let him make war on us. If he wants peace he will swallow that. And this is a proposal which I hold that the people could not make war on the Irish people, and I say again that I have as much responsibility for the lives of the people in Ireland as I have as much hatred of war as anybody and there is no argument put forward for the acceptance of the Treaty that I have not in my own mind. It is only my political sense that tells me you would not have war on that. I put this document before the Dáil that they might consider it and make amendments to it and it would be the most magnificent gesture that was ever made by a small nation.
The House adjourned at 11.20 p.m. to 11 o'clock on Monday morning.
[The Dáil met on Monday, 19th December, 1921, in public session.]